12 Ways AI is Shaping the Drone Industry


“AI” is a term used freely in the drone industry: but it’s uses vary from racing to rescue operations.  Drone expert Jake Carter has rounded up 12 use cases to demonstrate the ways that AI is shaping the industry.

Guest post by Jake Carter, drone enthusiast, reviewer and author for RCHobbyReview.

Drones have two parts: the aircraft and a control system. Sophisticated drones are equipped with state of the art technology that uses artificial intelligence, a branch of computer science that specializes in creating intelligent machines that think and act like humans.

The Advantages and Disadvantages of AI

Artificial intelligence can be used to create machines that perform tasks more efficiently than humans, allowing them to work in stressful environments twenty-four hours a day all year long with no lunch breaks, sick days, or paid vacations. This has already led to otherwise impossible feats in areas like space travel and medicine and could be the answer to global issues like world hunger and nuclear holocausts.

As machines develop the potential to improve the world, scientists ask an important question: What will happen if machines use their cognitive skills to perform malevolent acts instead of benevolent ones? This could happen in one of two ways. AI might be programmed to do something beneficial, and unwanted side effects could occur along the way. Or, it could it could fail into the wrong hands and be programmed to be destructive. Because AI has the possibility of evolving as it performs and adjusts to meet its objectives, its actions could be hard to predict.

12 Uses of Artificial Intelligence in Drones

Source: Pexels

1. Construction Sites

Construction companies use AI drones to scan and map the terrain of building sites, doing in 15 minutes a job that takes days for humans to complete, Drones give a bird’s eye view of the construction vehicles during the project, providing information to possibly create self-guided equipment in the future.

2. Smart Cities

A team at Microsoft Research says self-driving cars will be common by 2020, and the technology will spread to delivery vehicles, including everything from take-out food and prescription medications to public services. Drones may also be used to solve traffic problems or engineering dilemmas. In Rwanda, the use of AI has already lowered the wait for blood for transfusions from four hours to fifteen minutes.

3. Emergency Drones

Drones can be used to drop supplies to disaster victims in hard to reach locations, as well as to people in isolated areas during an emergency. Possibilities range from food for hurricane victims to medications for snake bites to hikers in the wilderness. They can also assess structural damage after a disaster, help firefighters see the exact locations of a fire, aid with chemical spills, and show emergency responders where to located injured people. They can carry police cameras and pepper spray or spot violent behavior in large crowds, as well as provide remote consultations with doctors.

4. Farming

In the past, farmers relied on experience and intuition for things like the best time to plant their crops or sow seeds for a garden. AI technology helps them do everything from determining the best time to plant to applying the right amount of fertilizer at just the right time. It can also aid farmers in spotting diseased crops or for managing solar farming technology.

5. Military and Defense

Google is currently working with the Pentagon to develop AI for unmanned combat, and the technology is already being used for tasks like patrolling borders, tracking storms, performing safety inspections, and monitoring security. Military drones can carry supplies, weapons, or cameras.

6. Industrial Infrastructure

Drones are being used by companies like the GE subsidiary Avitas Systems to inspect their infrastructure, including power lines, transportation, and pipelines. Drones can do the job more efficiently and safely, but they can also prevent problems by identifying inconsistencies in data. Some railway companies used drones in their safety inspections.

7. Face Recognition and Insurance Claim Processing

Some insurance companies use drones to survey damaged buildings, snapping images and wirelessly transmitting to the company for faster processing. Other companies use drones for simplifying face recognition or deterring cyber attacks, and the taxi-alternative Lyft is researching self-operated cars.

8. Amateur Drones

One company is developing a drone that can be used out-of-the-box by anyone who is interested in photography but is particularly suited for photographers who are also surfers, downhill skiers, UAV pilots, or runners. It also has applications for recording action sports and other events in real time.

9. Real-Time Data

Drones can be used by commercial, industrial, and service organizations to provide instant surveillance in multiple locations instantly, eliminating the need for human surveillance or spending endless hours searching through recorded information.

10. Creating “Perfect” Models for Instruction

An article in Forbes discusses the use of drones to analyze accumulated data and use it to produce a training manual showing employees how to be smarter, faster, and more precise on their jobs.

11. Real Estate

Sophisticated drones with cameras are being used by real estate companies to provide photographs of homes and commercial buildings, as well as aerial maps and local information for home buyers.

12. Entertainment, Media, and the Internet

Filmmakers and news media are using drones to capture aerial footage, sometimes without the FAA’s permission, and to shoot scenes on closed sets. So far, the Federal Aviation Administration has not approved drones for use by the media, forcing them to rely on footage by private users. Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook recently announced a plan to provide internet access to remote areas of the globe by using solar-powered drones.

Drones can go to places that are inaccessible to people, capturing powerful images and recording important data that would otherwise be unavailable. From drones that helped in Puerto Rico’s hurricane recovery to unmanned NASA vehicles that transform from drones to planes while inflight, scientists are using UAVs with artificial intelligence to make great changes in the world.

Jake Carter is a drone enthusiast and writer at RC Hobby Review follow him on Twitter @RCHobbyReview or Facebook @RCHOBBYREVIEW.



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