I recently wrote a feature story about the many uses of unmanned aerial vehicles (“drones”). It was published in February 2011 issue of the German Gruner+Jahr publication, Wunderwelt Wissen.
I truly believe that drones will revolutionize law enforcement, border patrol, search and rescue, security, agriculture, environmental monitoring, fire fighting, traffic control and many other areas.
Here is a good example for what drones can do. Flying over the Fukushima reactors is very dangerous at this time. Not only because of the direct radiation, but also because radioactive particles can get sucked into aircraft. Unmanned drones, on the other hand, can fly very close and and provide images and measurements around the clock. Some can even hover in the air and get within a few meters of parts to be inspected.
Here are a few aerial shots.
You can click on each for enlargements. (I believe they are in the public domain. Credit: EPA/Air Photo Service).