We are now entering the prediction season, but predictions do of course have that nasty habit of being wrong! But in the name of tradition lets have a go at predicting a few of the things that 2015 might bring for drones.
There are two things that I am reasonably confident in predicting: firstly, we are likely to see growing numbers of drone related stories in the media – in the last few months there have been a marked increase in drone stories. It is widely reported that drones are one of the must have presents for Christmas, so come Christmas Day a whole new generation of drone flyers will take to the air (and back down again!) and no doubt this will lead to a plethora of stories for the media to relay. My second confident prediction is that the media will continue to call them drones. Whilst the acronyms RPAS and UAV are being used widely in official circles, they simply do not have the attention power of the word drone.
When it comes to predicting the developing uses of drones with some predictions we are on pretty safe ground as usage in certain areas is already well on the way to being commonplace. 2014 witnessed some stunning photographic and film uses made of drone technology and these areas will undoubtedly continue to develop, providing us with unique visual experiences.
One area where there was much talk in 2014 of possible widespread drone activity was that of delivery. Amazon amongst others have been carrying out experiments on delivery systems, but I remain to be convinced that 2015 will witness widescale drone delivery usage. famous last words). This is for a number of reasons – there is some way to go before the technology itself is ready for such a role, both in terms of actually delivering goods and the technical/safety issues surrounding drone flights. As well as these matters there is also the issues of regulatory and acceptance concerns. Deliveries such as emergency medical supplies would be a natural beneficiary of drone technology, but the much talked about pizza deliveries is an entirely different matter.
As regards regulation, in the UK the lead regulatory body the CAA can be seen to be ahead of the game in seeking to provide a working environment by which drone usage can be facilitated. The U.S. regulatory body the FAA in contrast has been heavily criticised for its pedestrian pace of addressing key issues to create a workable framework. The whole area of regulation and public acceptance is likely to be a major issue in 2015.
If we consider other users, the police no doubt will continue to work on their use of drones, as will other public bodies such as the fire and rescue service. One of the very promising areas that are likely to benefit from greater use of drone technology is the agricultural sector. Already farmers are using drones, but this is likely to be just the beginning, with great opportunities in crop and livestock management. Researchers in different fields are likely to identify innovative uses for drone technology. Could selfie pictures give way to Dronie pictures in 2015? One area that I have not heard mentioned so far for drone use is the Art world – so maybe we will have Drone Art in 2015.
Perhaps the biggest question however for next year will be whether by Christmas 2015 Father Christmas will have given up on his sleigh and will be using a drone instead???!!!