April 18, 2015
Airware Software For Drones

A VC-funded start-up, Airware, is supplying a software solution to drone makers. This will reduce the barriers to entry for drone developers. The software is going to contain most of the design for regulatory compliance. So each drone developer will have an easier time passing muster with regulators. Plus, each drone application developer will only have to develop code for their own application area, not all the pieces needed to develop a complete drone.

Examples of current human jobs where drones will cut labor and other costs:

  • Some lifeguarding at beaches.
  • Inspection of pipelines, bridges, dams, and large complex industrial facilities.
  • Forest and game wardens. Hunt for poachers.
  • Home delivery.
  • Search and rescue planes for the search part.
  • Some police pursuit vehicles and helicopters.
  • Some police and helicopter patrols.
  • Some private security patrols.
  • Crop spraying.

When I use the term "some" above to indicate that humans still have to get involved but the need for humans will be reduced in a variety of ways. So, for example, police will still be still needed to make an arrest. But drones can reduce the amount of labor needed in pursuit or watching for suspects. Also, lifeguarding ins really two functions: spotting someone in trouble and then doing something about it. Drones could cover a large area and signal for a human lifeguard once someone is spotted in trouble. A drone could even drop an inflatable life raft right next to someone struggling.

A pipeline inspection drone tied to image processing software could inspect pipelines more often and the image processing software back on a server could flag a small fraction of the images taken for human inspection. Similarly, drones will check out long distance high voltage lines, fences in large livestock operations, and dams.

Cow herding with drones:

By contrast, sheep herding with helicopters.

Make the drones smart enough to act as an autonomous network and I can imagine dozens of drones (perhaps with speakers for sound effects) driving large numbers of sheep with little human involvement.

Usage of drones is going to go up by 3 or 4 or 5 or more orders of magnitude. My biggest worry: noise pollution. I do not want to see them very often.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2015 April 18 01:33 PM 


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