The Business of Drones

By: Soondos Mulla-Ossman ~Staff Writer~

Unmanned aircrafts have been a hot topic of discussion throughout the past several years. They’ve gone from experimental to commercial to militarized. They have benefits, downfalls, conveniences and dangers and have been developing quickly.

Computer Science Club President Cassie Kresnye has very optimistic views about drones as an emerging technology.

“There’s a lot of good stuff that can come from them,” Kresnye said. “This past summer I did a drone perception study, and with it we used different terminology to see what people are more comfortable with, and it turns out they’re comfortable with the word ‘drone.’”

She also mentioned that drones can actually benefit endangered species, which is her strongest interest in the technology.

The drones are able to catch poachers in the act with the drone’s superior camera view.

“They use them to patrol different herds and whatnot,” Kresnye said.

Recently, however, a development has been made in Dubai: passenger drones. Possessing a body and interior similar to a helicopter but supported by four sets of whirring blades like a drone, single passengers weighing up to 220 pounds will be able to hitch a ride for up to 31 miles as early as July of this year.

As for the new passenger drone in the works, she shares an optimistic view if it’s used for emergencies.

However, she points out that establishing a flight path for the larger aircraft that won’t interfere with current air traffic will be a massive struggle, one that Kresnye isn’t quite sure how to manage.

The Chinese-manufactured Ehang 184 has appeared before, particularly at Consumer Electronic Show (CES) 2016 where it received immediate attention. This is the first time it will be slated to actually fulfill its role as a passenger transporter.

In the U.S., drone development is not too far behind. In a Super Bowl ad, Amazon announced it would be releasing Prime Air, a drone delivery service, in the near future. Although the exact date for its release is unknown, the company has already made its first drone delivery in Britain.

Meanwhile, drones for other purposes have been increasingly dotting the sky, so much so that they’ve been proving significant hazards to other aircrafts in the sky, such as airplanes. Animals are at even greater risk, since birds and bats have already been suffering population hits due to air traffic.