FutureFive NZ - DroneAid: How drones are used in relief efforts

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DroneAid: How drones are used in relief efforts

What do you think of when you hear the word drone?

An expensive toy for privileged millenials who travel the world instead of settling into full time work?

The US military blowing people and buildings off the map with overseas missile strikes?

Arthur from the cubicle over who has worked in accounting for far too long and is now devoid of any recognisable human emotions?

Not that any of these are far off the mark, but what people don’t associate with drones is their use in improving the world. Drones have been utilised in recent years to help in relief efforts following natural disasters.

Drones have been used post-natural disaster in several cases to aid relief organisations. Drones were used to find areas most in need of help after Typhoon Haiyan tore through the Philippines in 2013.More recently, drones were used to record and document the aftermath of the 2015 Nepal earthquake.

Better than just being eyes in the sky, the aim is now to use drones as actual relief devices. According to Mashable, the APSARA glider made by Otherlab is made of biodegradable materials and is capable of carrying a load of two pounds in weight. It seems small, but blood, vaccines and water are all lifesavers that can fit in such a small package.

The drones are dropped from aircraft, then they find their location with GPS and autopilot technology. The ease and safety of using drones to give relief in remote and hard-to-access locations makes the huge task much more manageable.

Windhorse Aerospace created a drone prototype called Pouncer, which has wingsthat can be loaded with food. Even cooler is that the covers that protect the food can also protect those in need - they can double as shelter, while the plywood frame of the drone can be used as firewood.

While people focus on the frivolity and negativity around drone use, there are some seriously amazing things happening with our favourite controversial tech. Taking aerial photos of waves at the beach is cool and all, and an easy way to hit 100 instagram likes. Just know that for every cheesy photo and drone strike, incredible work is underway to use drones for (actual) good.

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