HT_amazon_delivery_drone_02_jef_131202_16x9_992The word ‘drone’ often readily springs to mind fearful images of explosions, dead civilians, and intimidating and ruthless killing machines flying through the sky. But not all drones are bad, a drone itself is simply a remotely piloted vehicle. Not all drones need to have weapons on them, and some can be used for good purposes instead of bad. While some drones can drop bombs and devastation, others can be used to deliver food, record football practices, or even deliver your newly ordered package from Amazon.

The drone market is only going to expand, as more producers look for ways to serve the needs of consumers with the assistance of these vehicles. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, recently announced the corporations intention to start offering 30 minute deliveries under its PrimeAir program, ideally by the year 2015. The packages are going to be delivered by “octocopters,” and they will carry objects that weigh up to 5 lbs (approx 2.5 kg) ; roughly 86% of all Amazon.com deliveries are 5 lbs or under. The octocopter will have a 10 mile radius, and a GPS navigational system. While the idea comes as an appealing one to many, it is still far off from realization.

The Federal Aviation Administration still needs to sign off on Amazon’s flight plans; no packages will be delivered via octocopter anytime soon. And establishing an effective power source for the delivery drones is going to be a tedious task. Drones the size of octocopters usually have a battery life of about 30 minutes, claims drone expert and Massachusetts Institute of Technology [MIT] associate professor Missy Cummings.

Education in the drone field has also been broadening academically, with more universities now offering diplomas and degrees in the promising and futuristic market of drone technology. Drone pilots can expect to earn anywhere between $50,000 to $120,000 per year. The possibilities of drone technology can be both beneficial and detrimental to society, depending on how we use it of course. There are numerous ways in which these types of machines can be used for something positive, in a way that will benefit the consumer, hopefully in an environmentally friendly manner.

Currently, drones are almost synonymous with unmanned aerial strikes.  According to a report published by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism in 2012, between 282 and 535 civilians (including 60 minors) have been reported as killed as a result of drone strikes. With many of the victim being young children, and the majority of them innocent civilians. The US drone program continues to receive harsh world-wide criticism, and anti-drone advocates continue to push for the continued use of the militarized pilot-less vehicles which seem to wreak more havoc than accomplish any good.

The increased used of drones will also lead to them being normalised and citizens desensitized towards drones, with the result being that drones will become largely unnoticed. This would likely make general surveillance (a la 1984) far easier to do, as well as opening the door to a world without postmen. Of course, it is also possible to create and program your own drone to hack other drones, presenting interesting security questions for companies trying to apply them broadly. Only time will tell how this plays out, but it appears drones will becoming a bigger part of all of our lives, whether we like it or not.