Denis Freitas @ Envisioning
The use of drones in commercial, scientific, recreational, agricultural, and other applications is expanding. But we can not paint them all with the same brush, regardless of what they are: flying mini robots, unmanned aerial vehicles, or miniature pilotless aircraft. We would point out that 757-sized UAVs have their origins in the military, whereas smaller ones draw inspiration from radio-controlled aircraft mythology. Drones are not chimeras nevertheless. It is proper to contrast them on behalf of a still lagging behind regulatory framework.
In the present time no clear differentiation has been made between drones. As a lay person see it, FPV drones revolutionizing the language and vocabulary of cinema are the same as the drones in warfields. They can be piloted remotely using a smartphone or tablet device, or operated with no human supervision. Without calling into question the problems of binarism, with respect to drones, we are facing a forked path.
What Things to Know
Regarding drone monitoring, the controlling power and the matter of surveillance it laid bare are the shape of things to come, according to pundits. Thus, we opt out of who in favor of what. While there are flying machines set up for automated police surveillance, powered by AI in near real-time to monitor people in the streets, the very fact of indigenous communities using drones to track deforestation might be worthwhile to watch out for—besides being morally uplifting. It might also be helpful to emphasize methods of unmanned photography in forest and natural resource management, a practice that some authors are calling 'ecological intimacy'.
In that vein, we deem positive the idea of vertical farms being monitored by drones using computer vision technology, and what is not entirely unlikely is to envoy the same ones to monitor trays that gradually move down the racks as plants grow, a technique of light tropism simulation and space optimizing. Outside, drones can help winemakers keep a healthy vineyard through infrared imagery captured by their cameras, exposing invisible threats, as pests and water content. Further, the high-quality footage taken in short periods could be thought of as a way of using drones for wastewater treatment infrastructure, an integrated approach to groundwater management systems. The world of things are changing at a breakneck pace, and drones are good at watching it. They can 'know' what things 'know'.
The Sky is the Limit
In the performance Ustedes (Spanish for 'you') by the Polish artist Krzysztof Wodiczko, eyes of immigrants and refugees fly over in a low attitude, carried by 4-helix drones, and everything goes together to give rise to a feeling of respect, contrary to aversion. We feel empathy. The drones are, so to speak, anthropomorphized, which results in a double effect: canceling the dehumanization of humans and machines. Therefore, the art project's intention (or lack of it) is to propose 'humanizing' actions perpetrated by drones, in the hope that these would make the public critically aware of new uses of technologies.
The sky's the limit, literally. We look forward to having reasons to be cheerful, seeing drone projects of common good, such as the wireless mesh network made up of drones for the provision of remote connectivity to difficult-to-access locations, or Ambulance Drones delivering aid when necessary.
What Lies Ahead
Cut to a crowded auditorium, where a speaker shows the video of a new form of weaponry, a swarm of tiny machines able to airstrike 'bad guys' with surgical precision, called by him as slaughterbots. Cut to this-just-happened media coverage of the killing of 11 US senators at the Capitol building. Cut to a mother calling her son and discovering, horrified, that he is 'going into politics', implying that he is behind those attacks. Cut to the impending vendetta scene, in which an army of slaughterbots swarms into a university classroom to annihilate her son, the activist who masterminded the politics assassination. The end.
Scary. But, you can rest easy for this Black Mirror-style storytelling is only a short film uploaded to YouTube, a case example of science fiction prototyping: cultural objects probing the future development of a given technology to test its implications. In real life, however, military laboratories are busy developing small, autonomous drones that can do facial recognition and carry a payload of shaped explosive. This is the future of war and law enforcement, we are told. "But allowing machines to choose to kill humans will be devastating to our security and freedom", to quote a line from the short film.
Again, some further analysis of the pronouns involved in the tasks of Delivery Drones, a technology that is in gestation. The pronouns are, namely, what and who: what are the drones delivering and to whom? We know that there are things intended only for certain kinds of people in specific times and places, but there are things outside the market spectrum and more akin to social design chains. For instance, reaching isolated indigenous people living in Brazil's Amazon in order to deliver COVID-19 vaccines is a challenge. Self-flying drones can help speed up the delivery time and, to some extent, this is already happening in Ghana. If you think the next pandemic could be around the corner, the relation between drones and pronouns begins to make sense.
A monitoring method that uses one drone or a swarm to provide aerial surveillance around the clock, on-demand, or on a pre-programmed schedule on sensitive or controlled sites. Guided by humans or activated autonomously, they are able to collect images and other sensor-based data such as temperature, humidity, and the presence of certain chemicals. Real-time information is then shared within the remote ground control system (GSC), in a control room, or a mobile device. Using an alarm system and voice amplifier, it is possible to communicate instructions in case of emergency.
The process of acquiring information from distance using remote sensors positioned on a satellite, drone, or aircraft. The sensors used to process information can be passive, only responding to certain stimuli, or active, detecting and recording reflected or emitted energy. This data processing method enables the monitoring, tracking, and mapping of large areas as well as data-informed decision-making.