There seems to be an unending variety of constructive uses for drones, and they continue to be one of the most remarkable inventions of modern times. Whether they’re used for military purposes – as they were initially designed for – or for humanitarian purposes, the question remains:
Hi-tech pests or hi-tech blessings from above?
Experts predict that drones will go on to continue providing us with a cheap, easy to use and vastly versatile way of being able to gather data, from perspectives that we have rarely had access to before. Should we then be excited about the future of drones, or worried that these unmanned aerial devices that seem to be able to do so much, will eventually become tech pests? Let’s take a closer look:
Benefits of drones used for humanitarian and wildlife/crop preservation purposes:
It’s clear that if drones can be used to help in emergency situations – whether aiding rescue attempts or delivering supplies and medicines to areas unreachable on foot or by helicopter – it would be nonsensical to think of them as being tech pests, particularly with their potential to help save lives.
Take wildlife preservation as another example: the RSPB in the UK have been using drones to monitor endangered birds that lay eggs or roost in remote locations, and in countries like Africa, drones have been used to help locate, track and potentially deter, wildlife poachers. Again, difficult to see how this can be anything but a positive use of UAV’s.
And in Japan, drone technology is being used to develop a UAV that can reduce the need for harmful pesticides. Drones fitted with infrared and thermal cameras shoot targeted doses of pesticides where they detect congregations of insects that cause damage to crops, limiting the exposure of the crop to the harmful chemicals.
Difficult to find any negatives associated with the use of drones in any of these scenarios, isn’t it?
Advantages of drones used for military purposes:
In warzones and military combat, drones can save lives. A drone can take the place of a member of military personnel when in a combat situation, and greatly reduce the potential for harm to human lives.
UAV’s are much cheaper to buy and run than traditional airplanes used in combat, and due to their size and ability to fly lower, the risk of damage to military hardware is significantly reduced.
Accuracy is also a significant plus side of using drones in warfare; since they can pinpoint accuracy from a far greater distance, they are able to minimise collateral damage to cicilians and infrastructure.
One other hugely beneficial aspect of a drone in a combat zone, is that it can be used to spy on the enemy and generally increase opportunities for surveillance, reconnaissance and general military intelligence.
Each of these points are hard to argue with, and referring to a piece of tech equipment that may save a soldiers’ life as simply a tech pest, is difficult to swallow. However, there are some documented cases of drones being a distinct disadvantage in military combat, as you’ll read below:
Disadvantages of drones used for military purposes:
While there can be little doubt that drones are ingenious inventions, in military circumstances, they do have their limitations, one of which is that they are unable to communicate with civilians on the ground, and cannot capture military personnel who may be surrendering.
Civilian losses are always a risk when drone warfare causes collateral damage to human lives and property, and their use has been known to be counterproductive in some regions of the world, particularly with those cultures who believe the use of drones to be a sign of weakness and of cold heartedness.
There is also the concern that with drone warfare being likened to combat style video games, ethical decisions are lessened, and their impact not assessed sufficiently.
Then there is the overwhelming concern among many, that drones will simply start removing the need for humans in many different industries and workplaces, and while this may be true in some cases, humans will always be needed to oversee them, and drones of course, need qualified and skilled operators.
Tech pest or tech godsend? We’ll let you decide.