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Amazon's Not Alone: Drones Coming to a Town Near You


Written By: Christine Dantz

Amazon is hardly alone in its desire to investigate the ultimate uses of drones; which means it's highly likely that drones will be coming to a town near you, very soon. Since the beginning of Back in the USA's series on Drones Over America, more companies, organizations, and government agencies are exploring the benefits of Unmanned Air Vehicles (UAVs) over the American skyline. This part of the series will help you identify any unidentified flying objects overhead, in the not too distant future.

After a quick refresher on "The Many Shapes, Weights, and Sizes of Drones," peek at what the future holds for UAV's to get a better idea of what you will be seeing in the sky, on land, and in the water. Yes, land and water. That's a reminder that a drone doesn't mean air, by definition it refers to who is, or in this case, isn't in the driver's seat.

Drones, like all vehicles, are custom designed for their specific use. Covert surveillance UAVs need to be small and quiet while taking quality audio, video, and still images. Advances in nanotechnology have made small devices a reality. However, there's no guarantee you will even see these fly-sized drones. Nonetheless, you don't have to wish "to be a fly on a wall." It's now possible. At the same time, make sure to check with privacy laws before you land!

Surveillance comes in different sizes, for a detailed image of a large area; the U.S. Navy developed a camera with a 130-foot wingspan that captures 360-degree images. The amazing tech has deicing and lightning protection features, allowing it to zoom in and out of various altitudes safely.

Now that you know what you're looking for, here are some of the more than dozen companies requesting and a few that have permission to forge this new commercial territory in the U.S.

  • Yamaha, which already supplies drones for spreading fertilizer, spraying pesticides, and monitoring farms in Japan and Australia, wants to fly its RMAX for similar purposes in the U.S.
  • Amazon did request permission to fly their 9th generation delivery drone outside its Seattle headquarters. However, it's unlikely they received the okay to buzz the Space Needle, which is several blocks away from the online retailers U.S. headquarters
  • VDOS Global works with the University of Alaska to manage the Pan Pacific UAS Test Range and they also manage the Warm Springs UAS Test Site in Oregon; the sites are two of six designated testing facilities for drones
  • The FAA approved limited drone use for the San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E); The Special Airworthiness Certificate for Small Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) specifies SDG&E can "use drones for research, testing, and training flights in sparsely populated airspace in Eastern San Diego County"
  • The San Jose City Police Department has purchased a drone with grant money for its bomb squad
  • Six Maritime, a security firm with offices in Gainesville, Florida, San Diego, California, and Dubai, UAE, provides complete video monitoring with drones on an international oil rig; they are the first known drone security force in offshore drilling
  • The Wave Glider developed by California start-up, Liquid Robotics is gliding the South China Sea collecting ocean and atmospheric data; using solar power, the water drone will help researchers explore the ocean, with 95 percent still uncharted territory by mankind
  • The "Flying Flashbulb" in development by Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Cornell University, are special effect drones, which could revolutionize the film industry by providing amazing, automated special effects

On the Frontier

AirDog is the next big item in commercial drones. This small UAV is a narcissist's best friend, programmed to follow you around with audio and visual capabilities. Advertised to be "your airborne sidekick," it's available for free delivery starting in December of 2014 for a low price of $1,295 each! Seriously, for a budding sports star, journalist, actor, or singer, AirDog sounds like a good investment (It's also important to point out AirDog is another Kickstarter success story).

Google Maps Driving Drones

By now, you've heard of Google's self-driving car that's also the company's videographer. However, you may not know that Google Map is also the guide behind drone navigation. This process of tech using tech is guiding the future of delivery in America.

Picture this: a dedicated air lane for UAV traffic and alternative fuel UAVs significantly reducing the country's carbon footprint.

Drones in the Media

The popularity of the UAVs is obvious. The 2014 buzzword is all over the news, on the front page of magazines, in Hollywood, and trending in world competition-outside the United States. Competition is the heart of innovation, as well as a healthy motivator.

Keep in mind, no regulation and three federal court cases means companies have no rules to follow. With this, not all businesses are going through with requesting permission to soar America's sky.

Of course, as long as the government takes its time to facilitate the technology, they are just forcing companies to take their testing and business overseas.

It's Time to Ask: Why is it okay for government officials to not do their job, hurt the economy, and still receive a paycheck from the U.S. Treasury?

Start at the beginning of Back In The USA's Series on Drones Over America: It's a Bird, It's a Plane, No, It's…a Drone?

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Other Articles of Interest:

Cities and States Pick Up FAA's Slack on Drone Safety Regulations

The Return of the Drones

Banning Ourselves into Oblivion

The Bank of Us, The People

Recess Appointments: Not Break Time for Politicians

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