Do a Google search of drones, and scary headlines pop up instantly. "Dangerous Drones Invade Protected Airspace Daily," says one. While others talk about "spooky, scary" drones that invade privacy; get in the way of firefighters, or lead to new types of warfare.
These concerns are real, but there are also many constructive use for drones that save lives, make cities safer and boost the economy.
"Wherever there's a problem, I'm pretty sure you can find a use to overcome that problem utilizing drones," says our guest, Mehdi Salehi of the Parsons School of Design. His company, Drone Labs, specializes in drone design, R&D, data collection and analysis.
Mehdi draws on his own experience as a refugee "leaving Afghanistan, going to Europe and then coming to New York" to build on a lifelong fascination with flight. "I've always believed that you can utilize this technology for good," he tells us in this episode.
Drone technology is rapidly improving. Artificial Intelligence, or machine learning, will lead to many new breakthroughs in the near future. Among the civilian applications that we discuss:
- Using drones to help first responders in flood, fire and other natural disasters.
- Inspections of high-rise buildings and wind turbines.
- Tracking refugees in flimsy boats and rafts, who are in danger of drowning before rescuers can get close.