5 amazing ways UAVs do social good (who said sky is the limit?)

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5 amazing ways UAVs do social good (who said sky is the limit?)

For many of us, the words “drone” or “UAV” (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) evoke associations with military applications and delivery services. However, it is important to note that these unmanned aircrafts can do much more than only playing a part in counter-terrorism strikes or moving Amazon parcels from point A to point B.

In this blog post we highlight some of the areas where drones are doing something really good for humankind and for the planet.

1. Search and rescue (SaR)

When an accident occurs, whether it is a devastating avalanche, a drowning incident or free-climbing gone wrong, Search and Rescue (SaR) teams might need to scan vast areas in search for evidence of victims. They need information and real-time imagery to be able to make informed decisions and save time. For this purpose, drones can be used in order to fly predefined search patterns and collect various types of images captured from an aerial perspective. If you want to read more about how to use a drone in SaR operations, we discuss this topic in further detail here.

2. Medical emergencies

Throughout the developing world, where there is a lack of adequate transportation and supply chain infrastructure, access to lifesaving and critical health products is many times hampered by the so-called last-mile problem. This is the inability to deliver life-critical medicine to rural or remote locations. Using UAVs to deliver first aid to these areas can help save the life of people in need of medical attention. An example of this is how the Rwandan government use drones to deliver blood to multiple transfusing facilities located in the western half of the country.

3. Wildlife monitoring

In a world where more and more animal species are on the verge of extinction, drones can be used to monitor animal populations in the wild, especially endangered ones. A group of researchers, for instance, have been using drones to keep track of deforestation and count orangutans and other endangered species in northern Sumatra. Another example is the team of scientists in Australia that conduct aerial surveys using UAVs to monitor vulnerable koala populations across different terrains.

4. Forest fire control

From an environmental point of view, UAVs are becoming an incredibly useful tool for firefighters, especially those who have challenging, seemingly impossible task, of controlling wildfires. As wildfires are notoriously unpredictable, with many firefighters suffering serious injuries and even dying in their struggle to contain them, this is also great news for people working within firefighting. This short video shows how scientists at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences made a test with drones and thermal cameras to control a prescribed forest fire.

5. Anti poaching and curbing wildlife crimes

Drones do not just help scientists observe and keep track of endangered animals; they can also help protect these threatened species from poachers. Even where poaching is strictly banned and considered a serious crime, poachers break into national parks and kill animals, contributing to the illegal (and expanding!) wildlife trade industry. As a reaction to this slaughter of both wildlife and the people responsible to protect it, SmartPlanes have been delivering drones to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) in Tanzania. And using drones has proved to be an efficient way to detect poachers and to protect and monitor the wildlife.

Drones are here to stay!

Evidently drones, when executed in a responsible manner, help scientists, organizations and everyday citizens transform the act of doing good. And this was just a few out of many examples. As UAV technology clearly revolutionizes how we tackle social and environmental issues, this is probably just the beginning.  

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