Unusual Uses for Drones – Who Knew?

You might be aware of the many uses of drones besides film and video production, but you may be surprised about how varied its uses are. Drones are also used for other unique applications such as farming, data gathering, infrastructure inspection, window cleaning, and more. Besides these things, some people go beyond the conventional and are using drone technology for something a little unexpected.

Ambulance drones

Ambulance Drones, created at the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, aim to solve a problem that has caused death in many sudden medical emergencies, such as cardiac arrest. It also aims to get to the scene in the first few minutes that are often the most important, until a real ambulance with medical personnel arrives. Ambulance drones are designed with video and two-way audio communication ability, with compartments for advanced first aid kits. It is meant to reach the victim and instruct a person nearby about what to do with the first aid tools. The original plan was for the drone to be integrated into existing ambulance response networks, but it lacked commercial backing.

Shooting and assisting in extreme sports

Extreme sports and drones are a perfect match. It’s incredibly useful for filming yourself snowboarding, jet skiing, skydiving, and any other activity that’s otherwise hard to shoot. While using a Go-Pro or other action cameras is commonly used wherein the user attaches it on top of their head, it only replicates what the adventurer has already seen. By using drones, they can see what happened and how they looked like a closer view.

But besides filming the action, drones have also been involved in the action. In 2017, a team in Latvia performed the world’s first drone-assisted skydive. Engineers from Aerones worked on a drone that can lift people safely out of burning buildings, and they tested the technology by carrying a man 1,000 feet into the air for a skydive.

Amazon Prime air delivery

Amazon Prime Air is a drone delivery service by Amazon in the works for a few years. Testing has been done for delivering customer orders using drones in 30 minutes or less. The drones are equipped with sensors to avoid obstacles along the way, and it lands safely next to the customer’s home, and return back to its base. It’s intended for delivering in non-urban areas. Operations were expected to begin in selected cities starting late 2019, but as of 2020, the service has yet to materialize.

Light shows

You may have seen the spectacular drone light show at the 2016 Superbowl. It was a spectacular, Guinness World Record-breaking light show that brought the highest number of drones flying in sync at a time: 500. Intel has been turning up drones worldwide at different sporting events, as well as in Disneyland, Coachella music festival, and above Sydney’s iconic opera house. In the future, it might work as a new replacement for fireworks.

Serving sushi

London-based restaurant YO! Sushi delivers food using an RC drone quadrocopter and an iPad. This means the waiters at this sushi restaurant must be techy enough to operate a drone. The quadrocopter has two built-in cameras to enable the kitchen staff to keep tabs on it. The flying tray can deliver food at speeds of 25 miles per hour – so much quicker than your average waiter – but they probably don’t operate it at full speed for safety.

Burrito delivery

Burritos parachuted by drones to your doorstep? That’s a solid practical technology. Burrito Bomber, a non-weaponized airborne Mexican food delivery system, was created by research lab Darwin Aerospace. It was introduced in 2012, but that time it wasn’t available yet under current FAA guidelines. The company says that regulations for commercial use of the Burrito Bomber must be determined by 2015, but there’s no news about it yet.

Building towers

In 2011, researchers from the Flying Machine Arena used drones to build towers. The installation was called Flight Assembled Architecture, being the first to be built using flying machines. This architectural structure is at 600 meters high, addressing new ways of thinking and materializing architecture.

Juggling balls

The researchers from the Flying Machine Arena experimented with drones that juggle balls, just for kicks. Both the drones and balls were tracked by an overhead motion system and controlled by computers. What a techy way to do juggling, right?

Taking and delivering 3D-printed portraits

In 2012, non-profit organization ReAllocate tested a delivery system for medicine at the Burning Man Festival in Nevada. The organization set up a dome made out of shipping containers, and participants at the Burning Man are asked to come and pose for a 3D printed portrait. Later on, they picked up a GPS transponder, so a drone can find the people later on to deliver the 3D-printed portrait. This delivery system aims to test the use of drones for delivering things like medicine and vaccines.

Collecting whale snot

Drones can even be used to collect biological samples from whales, such as their snot for research. Studying whales is hard – boat motors easily stress them, so they swim away at first instinct, leaving researchers to waste days and thousands of dollars. Bu using custom-built drones called SnotBots, scientists can effectively fly petri dishes directly to the whale’s blow to collect samples faster and for less. These drones are created in partnership between the Ocean Alliance team and Massachusetts’s Olin College of Engineering.

Creating controlled avalanches

Perhaps you’re aware that drones are used for rescue work, including search and recovery for avalanche victims. But for Mountain Drones, a company specializing in high-performance drones that perform avalanche mitigation work, they use drones for controlled explosions for ski-slopes to pave the way for new ski runs and cause avalanches before it even occurs naturally. Avalanche mitigation is a dangerous job, so a drone is a helpful tool to deliver explosives remotely for a safer and more precise explosion.

Preventing shark attacks

Do you know that drones are used in Australia to help prevent shark attacks? In New South Wales, a lot of surfers have been attacked by sharks in recent years, so the local government put together a Shark Management Strategy that involved drones. Later, the project was named SharkSmart. Drones were used for aerial surveys, combining drone technology, artificial intelligence, and computing power to identify and alert lifesavers about sharks near swimmers and surfers. It’s now implemented among different Australian beaches, even outside NSW.