I know that the subject of this site is cold fusion, but I sometimes take the liberty to discuss other issues and technologies that I consider to be significant, interesting and potentially disruptive, especially when contemplating them in combination with an LENR energy source. We have talked about 3D printing and robotics here recently — another related technology is that of drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).
Drones are most commonly discussed these days in the context of anti-terrorism strikes in which unmanned aircraft are remotely guided to send missile strikes on enemy targets — but the field of unmanned aircraft is becoming much wider than just for military applications. UAVs are fast becoming popular with hobbyists, with small and cheap quadcopter kits becoming available, which can be controlled by sophisticated software on computers or mobile phones.
A March 17th New York Times article, “Domestic Drones on Patrol” discusses some of the recent developments in the field and points out some of the political, ethical and safety issues that policymakers will have to deal with as this technology inevitably expands. The US Federal Aviation Authority has charged the Congress to draft laws governing UAVs by 2015. The article discusses some applications of UAVs already in use, or in development: searching for missing persons, firefighting, crop inspection, cargo transportation, building inspection, etc.
One of the big concerns that people bring up about UAVs is the potential violation of peoples privacy.
One of the limitations on UAVs is the length of time they can stay in the air due to current power sources. Over time, with improved energy sources (LENR, better batteries or supercapacitors, or something else) we might be seeing some of these craft able to stay airborne for much longer.
So where does the future lie with this kind of technology? It’s really not possible to say, but I get the feeling that there are thousands of applications that these kinds of machines. I can imagine small drones painting houses, washing windows, servicing communications towers, being used as security guards, and countless other purposes. I can also see this technology being appealing to criminals — not to mention the military applications.
Here’s a fascinating video of some of some mini quadcopters in action. This demonstrated was done at the University of Pennsylvania.
It seems that the acceleration of technological development is continuing unabated. Chris Anderson, of San Diego-based online seller of UAV equipment 3D Robotics says, “The sky’s going to be dark with these things.” That’s not a very appealing thought. So are UAVs something to be worried or excited about? What useful applications can you envision for them? What should we be concerned about? With all the amazing technology being developed, what kind of future are we looking at?