Good news! The benefits of drones in your lifetime
BY DEANNA SHOSS
George Jetson meet EHang 184.
Getting around in an “Autonomous Aerial Vehicle” (AAV) was part of the Jetson’s daily routine in the 1960’s cartoon that envisioned the family of the future. The future has finally caught up, with the new drone passenger taxis from EHang in use under a pilot program in Guangzhou, China today.
“It may be a while before we see passenger drones in the US, but they are certainly on their way,” says Miriam McNabb, Editor-in-Chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones.
Indeed, Urban Air Mobility (UAM) is a term being used by city planners around the globe. UAM refers to on-demand and automated passenger or cargo-carrying air transportation services.
City and transportation planners are looking at UAM to bring new ways for people to travel around cities and urban areas while reducing congestion. “In many traffic-prone cities, there is nowhere to go but up!” says McNabb.
Blood pressure going up just thinking about it?
If the thought of flying through space in a pod-like passenger drone has made your blood pressure go up, there’s good news. Very soon you will be able to call in a prescription and have it delivered to your home by drone, within minutes.
In March 2019 UPS completed the first successful drone delivery, at WakeMed Hospital in Raleigh, NC. Alphabet subsidiary Wing launched a pilot program last September to conduct deliveries for Walgreens and FedEx in Christiansburg, Virginia. Both projects are among 10 states, local and tribal governments that were selected to participate for projects in the US Department of Transportation’s Drone Integration Pilot Program (IPP)
In announcing the IPP program, the US Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao said that “data gathered from these pilot projects will form the basis of a new regulatory framework to safely integrate drones into our national airspace.”
Drones will definitely be a part of daily life soon.
Since you’ll likely use drone deliveries in your lifetime, here’s how it could work
“The hardest part for drone deliveries now is what’s called ‘the last mile,’” says Ken Rapier, one of three co-founders of RBS Drone Technologies, Inc. (RBS), a drone pilot training company in Chicago. “Think of the Amazon Prime trucks that drive down your street, stopping for the driver to hop in and out and run packages to the door,” says Rapier.
With drones, the driver, who would also be a licensed commercial drone pilot, could launch a drone from the roof of the truck, Rapier explains. “They would enter in precise GPS coordinates and send the drone on its way with the package.” Then with the ‘call home’ function and using the truck’s GPS, the drone would deliver the package and return to the truck as it was already driving to the next location. The driver would then attach the next package and enter the new coordinates to send the drone on its way again. Weight currently is limited to carrying up to three pounds worth of packages.
In some pilot programs a tether is used to transport the package (See how Sugar Magnolia bakery delivers treats as part of the DOT pilot). In the future, you might have a drone delivery lock box next to your mailbox. “Drones could be equipped with the passcode to open the box and drop in your delivery, and then have it close again with your packages locked safe and sound inside,” Rapier suggests.
Jobs now and in the future
Rapier is a licensed pilot, flight instructor and commercial drone pilot (whose first granddaughter turned one last November). He co-founded RBS to help train people for the jobs of tomorrow. RBS trains people to take the Part 107 Drone Pilot Certification Training, a prerequisite for flying a drone commercially and earning money. The minimum age to apply for a license is 16. “Years of playing x-box and video games is great training for a career as a drone pilot for young people,” says Rapier.
Captain Mark Stevenson, another co-founder of RBS Drone Technologies, Inc., thinks that older adults are the most likely to benefit from drone technologies. “And not just because you won’t have to go out in the cold if you run out of a prescription. But there are great jobs!” he says.
Now a grandpa to 17 (ages 5 to 25), Captain Mark is building a second career and living the drone life.
Captain Mark, as he is known is a United States Coast Guard 100 Ton Master Boat Captain. He first got his drone pilot license to make inspecting his ship easier. “It was more efficient to send my drone around the ship to inspect for damage before sending two people out in a boat,” he mused. “Plus, if anyone forgot a tool or needed more supplies, the drone could easily bring them.”
Now a grandpa to 17 (ages 5 to 25), Captain Mark is building a second career and living the drone life. “I do drone photography and security,” he says, with a side nod at the number of individuals who hire people to follow their spouses. “That’s lucrative work.” He’s also averted a would-be robber by sending his drone out after hearing someone in his yard. “It worked better than my dog.”
The drone pilot training course at RBS is eight hours and includes two hours of hands-on training. “That plus a couple of days of studying is all it takes to get a license,” says Captain Mark.
Once the FAA eases the “visual line of sight” regulation requiring a pilot to always be able to physically see their drone,” the opportunities will explode. “There will be many drone jobs that can be done from inside your car or even your house,” says Captain Mark.
What are the other current uses of drones?
Drones will get safer and easier to fly every day with things like obstacle detection and collision avoidance sensors and even more precise GPS. And with pilot program successes, regulations will evolve to better match the potential. But in the meantime, there are many uses for drones happening right now. For example:
- Real Estate Photography
- Inspections (Roofs, Ships, Water Tower, Nuclear Power Tanks, Abandoned Mines)
- Law Enforcement and Fire Safety
- Search and Rescue (279 people were saved with drones from January to October 2019)
- Precision Agriculture
- Home Security and Surveillance
- Mapping and more.
A boon for entrepreneurs and the economy
The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) issued a report on The Economic Impact of Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration in the United States in 2013, showing the economic benefit of UAS (aka drone) integration. AUVSI’s findings predicted that in the first three years of integration more than 70,000 jobs would be created in the United States, with an economic impact of more than $13.6 billion. This benefit will grow through 2025 when we foresee more than 100,000 jobs created and an economic impact of $82 billion.
Of that, the FAA testified before congress that 90% of drone owners will be small businesses. So what are you waiting for?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
DEANNA SHOSS (CEO Intercultural Talk, Inc., Marketing) helps non-digital natives promote their businesses or life projects with digital, intercultural and real-life marketing. She takes an intergenerational approach that combines online communication platforms like websites/blogs, social media, and video with tried and true practices such as partnership building, email marketing, and in-person events. Deanna writes for the National Diversity Council and is the Tech Columnist for Grand Magazine. She speaks Portuguese, Spanish and French and is a certified Body Pump instructor. Learn more at interculturatalk.com.