The Greener Side of Drones

Imagine being able to see a unique perspective of the Sierra Nevada by exploring inaccessible wilderness areas. Sounds pretty incredible, right? These unique views would typically be impossible without the use of a plane, helicopter, or balloon. Through the use of drones, however, such has become not only possible but also easily accessible for the general public.

COMM LK BlogImage OutsideOnline 2015 01And individuals are not just using drones for recreational purposes. Many organizations have found them well suited for environmental utilization, specifically as a conservation and monitoring tool. John Takekawa, a wildlife biologist for the United States Geological Survey’s Western Ecological Research Center believes “the best use of drones, however, could be to observe Bay Area sea levels related to climate change. The drones allow researchers to take detailed aerial images of inundated marshland during high tides and after storms, looking specifically at how particular plant species survive in the changing — and increasingly inundated — environment over time.”

 With our ever changing environment, and the increasing need to monitor its every move, drones have proven a useful tool for exactly that. The Environmental Protection Agency has been using drones to test air quality and NASA is using drones to test the makeup of the ozone and any changes in water vapor in the stratosphere. Furthermore, Amazon’s project, Prime Air would be able to deliver packages in under 30 minutes to customers around the world, effectively reducing their carbon footprint.

Drones are good for combat too–combating wildfire that is. Firefighters are optimistic about drones for the future of firefighting. Drones are now able to actually fight fires as well as spot them and gauge their movement. The usage of drones in firefighting is similar to a unique approach to farming, where drones can selectively spray pesticides on plants that need attention, reducing environmental damage and costs. Drones are able to survey crops, determine if their irrigation systems are working, how their plants are growing, and if their plants are healthy through infrared technology, and soon they’ll be doing the same for forest systems.

Despite the more well-known use of drones for military purposes; drones have a variety of other purposes that have proven useful–particularly on the environmental side of things.  From monitoring illegal dumping and changes in water quality to reducing greenhouse gas emissions through delivering packages, drones are beginning to have more of a presence in fields unrelated to military or government. With more appropriate uses of drones, they very well could be the green tool of the future.