If Orson Welles were alive today, he’d likely write a science fiction novel depicting the potential destruction that drones may possess. While it’s very likely that the drone industry will not lead to the demise of the human race, it is quite interesting to look at how technology in the field is changing and developing at such a rapid rate. Over the past 2 years, drones have gone from simple toys to complex, intriguing, and extremely innovative machines. Now, these machines may be able to save and protect countless lives through the latest advancements made in the field. These advancements include the ability to launch underwater, climb on walls, detect bombs & other illegal items, detect home intruders, and much more.
Scientists at University of Wisconsin-Madison have successfully developed a drone with the ability to detect explosives, chemical & nuclear weapons, and drugs. The system relies on a neutron source that irradiates the ground where the suspected items are, then sensor drones look for gamma rays or other signatures specific to certain items. The technology is already utilized in airports to scan baggage, however the breakthrough was making the source small enough to mount on a drone. The technology is so well-developed, that it can place the location of the items to within a foot, as long as the devices are buried within a 6-foot depth. According to Jerry Kulcinski, an emeritus professor of nuclear engineering at UW-Madison and the lab’s director, the drones can be used to help rid the world of undetected landmines in war zones both past and present. Kulcinski states that the technology can also detect the pattern in which the bombs are laid out, whether they’re in a rectangular pattern, triangular pattern, or any random pattern. With the American Nuclear Society estimating that nearly 50 million mines may be present in 60 countries, this technology has the possibility to save countless lives in the not-so-distant future. Col. John W. Weidner, who helps manage the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration, states that “from what I’ve read, its applications are only limited by the imagination of the user.”
“from what I’ve read, its applications are only limited by the imagination of the user.”
-Col. John W. Weidner
Back at home, drones are now capable of detecting when an unwanted intruder is on your property. Security cameras, no matter how advanced, are rendered useless once an intruder leaves the camera’s field of vision. These new surveillance drones are equipped with sensors and thermal imaging that can detect heat and movement. Once detected, three things occur: law enforcement is automatically contacted, a house alarm is triggered to alert the residents, and other drones on the property are launched and deployed to the area where the intruder is, shining a blinding spotlight on them. In some cases, certain drones are even being equipped with the means to stop intruders in their paths with items such as, rubber bullets, tear gas, and a non-lethal 80,000V taser.
Although this may all sound like science fiction or something out of a comic book, the reality is that drone technology is rapidly revolutionizing the security industry. It is only a matter of time before both of these advancements are widely accepted and integrated, as drones have the ability to save money, time, and lives.