Growth and rapid changes in the American economy often come from military spending. The Wright Brothers had funding from a U.S. Army contract that helped pave the wave for today’s global airlines. Atomic weapons begot atomic power after the Second World War. Civilian satellites for research came after NASA developed space technologies. The precursor to the Internet received Pentagon funding and gradually helped create the world we know today. We’re seeing the early start of space tourism by companies like Virgin Galactic. I’m convinced that a new one is on the horizon: affordable civilian applications for robotics like UAVs used in the Afghanistan and Iraq Wars.
Originally, I feared that the applications would be limited to defense and security like border monitoring and novelty uses like the infamous TacoCopter. (I love this one). Now I’m seeing articles quoting uses like fishing companies using drones to find schools of fish. That would let companies bring in larger hauls and use less fuel. Heck, it’s easy to imagine this being applied to individual fishers: a small aerial or water-based robot could launch from a small Boston Whaler and search. Heck, if you could release it an hour before you go out and have it track schools, you could go straight to the fish and save yourself the time of searching.
There are going to be uses for small drones we can’t begin to imagine as they infiltrate our daily lives. And the U.S. stands to benefit by manufacturing and selling them. We essentially mastered the technology in the wars and we have the businesses to manufacture them. Keep an eye out as these things come into your lives.