Somewhere between military drones and paparazzi drones, people are finding uses for drones that improve the world and help noble causes. As UAS technology becomes more ubiquitous, use cases for conservation, search and rescue, and safety are appearing with increasing frequency.
The Lindbergh Foundation recently posted on Indiegogo their Air Shepherd initiative, which aims to utilize drone technology to prevent the poaching of African elephants and rhinos. Over two years of testing, the foundation equipped drones with infrared cameras to follow herds at nighttime when poachers are most likely to attack. So far the program has been successful in reducing poaching to zero in areas that previously had lost up to 19 rhinos a month.
Drones are not only being used to protect fauna but flora also. Scientists at BioCarbon Engineering are developing drones to fight deforestation. BioCarbon’s drones will be used to reduce the labor required for reforestation with a combination of improved mapping and seeding techniques.
As a result of the United Arab Emirates Drones for Good competition, Wadi Wurayah National Park will soon be flying drones to collect data from 120 camera traps that capture images of wild animals at the park. The use of the drones reduces the current costs of sending park rangers to manually collect the data almost tenfold.
In one of the first uses of drones for search and rescue in the U.S., Texas EquuSearch utilized drones in the finding of missing persons. The search-and-recovery team had been using drones as early as 2006, but was halted by the Federal Aviation Administration in 2014. Recently the non-profit has been granted exemptions on a search-by-search basis.