What are Drones?

Drones are unmanned aerial vehicles that are controlled autonomously by computers or pilots with remote controls. They were innovated in the early 1900s for military personnel training and typically leveraged in operations that are too dangerous or time-consuming for humans. Still most commonly used for military purposes, drones have been deployed for a wide range of tasks, such as policing and community surveillance and security, filmmaking, and the surveying of agriculture and crops. In the past century, drone technology has advanced users’ abilities to extensively view objects and landscapes below, as well as to detect changes in environmental conditions. Features including biological and chemical sensors, electromagnetic spectrum sensors, and infrared cameras make these detailed observations possible. While legal and ethical concerns have been raised by many over the prospect of constantly being monitored by these vehicles, new civil aviation programs and experiments that include drones reflect a growing use of the technology. There are not yet concrete applications for teaching and learning, but the continuous progress of drones in the military and consumer sectors make them compelling to watch closely over the next few years.

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(1) How might this technology be relevant to the educational sector you know best?

  • When some of the restrictive regulations are sorted out, I think we will see an increasing use of drone technology in educational settings especially in fields like agriculture, urban planning, and environmental sciences. Another interesting application is in archaeology - on a recent trip, I saw a drone being flown over some archaeological ruins, presumably for research purposes. - JoanLippincott JoanLippincott Oct 17, 2015 - DaveP DaveP Oct 24, 2015 agree it is a fully immersive interactive and innovative technology
  • The Wild West period of drones may be coming to an end and we are already seeing restrictions impacting their use in public spaces. They are incredible video production tools and very cheap. The safety and ethical issues can not be overstated, however and we may see access to drones being severely limited in the future.- billshewbridge billshewbridge Oct 19, 2015
  • In terms of video production, the drone opens new opportunities for creative expression to student film makers that simply were not possible before. This translates to more versatility in storytelling, greater creativity in the visualization, and stronger practical experience for a number of the crew responsible - from director, the cinematographer, to sound engineer, to production designer, and even the writer. This technology not only impacts the actual production phase, but could serve as a key new tool in previsualization. - Dougdar Dougdar Oct 22, 2015

(2) What themes are missing from the above description that you think are important?

  • I'm not sure I agree with the statement in the description that there are not concrete applications in education yet. I think there have been a number proposed but some scuttled because of federal regulations.- JoanLippincott JoanLippincott Oct 17, 2015
  • The function of drones as safety partners should not be overlooked. This technology is cost effective enough to be able to pair with any student working in a remote location where there could exist an element of risk - mountains, ice field, jungles, etc. - and be able to key in on a worn device to track and monitor that person. In situations where an accident might occur and the researcher was immobilized, the personal drone could detect a problem, relay vitals and position, and serve as a location beacon, while allowing rescuers to maintain a visual. Just a thought. - Dougdar Dougdar Oct 22, 2015 - helga helga Oct 23, 2015

(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on higher education?

  • If this is a technology that will be used increasingly in a variety of fields, I believe faculty will find ways to introduce their students to this technology as a tool of the field.- JoanLippincott JoanLippincott Oct 17, 2015
  • Great story on Radiolab a couple months ago (http://www.radiolab.org/story/eye-sky/) that begins to suggest not only how inexpensive/ubiquitous drones may become but when the data they collect becomes almost perpetual. Fascinating implications not only for law enforcement but life in the public sphere. - dicksonk dicksonk Oct 20, 2015
  • While there are some creative potentials within the visual arts, a few strong areas of impact are within Historical and Archeological studies, architectural studies, and in Journalism. The ability to get unique perspectives and up and personal with sites and structures can be next to impossible. Drones allow students and researchers a controlled approach to views not readily available, and in some cases where aerial observations from large craft poses a risk to ancients structures, can only be seen through this type of solution. In terms of Journalism, as with the move to backpack journalism that many photojournalist made when taking on videography, having a new tool to help better tell a story will prove to be a value asset and skill relevant to students as they prepare for future success in an evolving industry. - Dougdar Dougdar Oct 22, 2015

(4) Do you have or know of a project working in this area?

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