Drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles, are gaining popularity, not only in civilian but also industrial applications. Today’s drones are a combination of advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence, sensors, hyperspectral cameras and vision systems. However, with their evolution come questions about safety, ethics and the future.
Modern technologies for drones
Drones benefit from a range of modern technologies, allowing them to operate with greater precision and autonomy. As researchers at the University of Huddersfield note, the key to success is equipping drones with digital technologies. This enables them to be used in a variety of fields – from surveying to aerial photography to combat operations.
Technologies such as LiDAR and hyperspectral cameras enable drones to perform specialised tasks with a precision that often exceeds human capabilities. Research into composites and 3D printing could also bring a revolution in drone manufacturing, making them lighter, cheaper and more accessible.
The use of drones in the mining industry
In recent years, the mining industry has recognised the hitherto untapped potential of drones, transforming traditional working methods in mines and quarries. With their precision sensors and advanced cameras, drones are becoming an invaluable tool in monitoring and mapping mining areas. They enable the accurate and rapid creation of three-dimensional models of mining areas, making it much easier to plan and control the extraction of raw materials. Drones also contribute to a significant increase in occupational safety – remotely conducted inspections will avoid exposing workers to dangerous situations in difficult to access or unstable areas. What’s more, the use of drones allows for continuous monitoring of the environmental impact of mining activities, providing the opportunity to react quickly and minimise any damage. The use of drones in the mining industry not only streamlines processes and increases efficiency, but also contributes to the sustainable and responsible development of the sector.
Autonomy or control?
On the one hand, autonomous drones open up new possibilities, especially when it comes to collecting data or operating in hard-to-reach places. On the other hand, moral and ethical questions will arise. How far are we willing to let drones act on their own? The vision of a drone autonomously identifying and eliminating a target seems worrying and raises many questions about responsibility and ethics.
Drones of the future are a fascinating topic that continues to evolve and provide food for thought. They will undoubtedly play an increasingly important role in our lives, both in the civilian and military spheres. The key to harmonious development will be to strike a balance between technological progress and moral and ethical responsibility. For more on this topic, see the academic article ‘Drones on the Rise: Exploring the Current and Future Potential of UAVs’.