By this point, you probably realize that drones are getting worldwide buzz in a wide variety of industries, from entertainment to construction, surveying and mapping. Drones are gaining popularity all the time, and with that comes new, clever uses you hadn’t thought of yet - but probably wish you had.
Flying cars are no longer a thing of the future, thanks to Israeli company Urban Aeronautics. For 15 years, the company has been developing a flying ambulance drone called the Cormorant. The Cormorant, previously referred to as the AirMule, is an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) roughly as large as a family car that can carry passengers to hospitals where they can receive immediate medical attention.
The Cormorant weighs approximately 1.5 tons and can carry a load of up to 1,100 pounds — thanks to powerful internal rotors that enable the drone to fly at speeds of up to 115 miles per hour. Due to its lack of external propellers and blades, the UAV is able to navigate tight spaces and perform rescues in urban environments that helicopters would be unable to reach.
In November 2016, a Cormorant prototype underwent its first test flight. Despite minor glitches, Urban Aeronautics deemed the flight a success and aims to have the drone ready for the market by 2020. If the drone meets safety standards set by the US Federal Aviation Administration, Urban Aeronautics hopes to sell the ambulance internationally.
The Hurricane and Severe Storm Sentinel (HS3) launched by NASA is a five-year mission that seeks to investigate the processes that command hurricane formation and intensity change in the Atlantic Ocean basin. NASA plans to use the data collected by these high-altitude, long-distance drones to understand and predict future tropical storms.
The HS3 mission utilizes two Global Hawks - one dedicated to measuring the environment, and another geared toward understanding inner-core structure and processes. Unlike manned hurricane hunter planes, the Global Hawks have a wingspan of 116 feet, a jet engine, and are able to stay airborne for up to 30 hours and travel up to 11,000 miles. These unmanned Global Hawks are able to reach areas that aren’t safe for humans to approach.
The high endurance of the drones helps researchers document the full life cycle of deadly storms, helping to significantly reduce the costs associated with storm damage and evacuation. Scott Braun, director of NASA’s new Global Hawk mission, confirmed the sentiment, “If we can improve forecasts, we can save money and lives.”
Possibly one of the most ‘Silicon Valley’ things to ever happen, a luxury hotel in the California Bay Area now offers bottle service by drone delivery.
The Mansion at Casa Madrona in Sausalito offers complimentary drone service for guests staying in their most extravagant lodging — the $10,000 per night Alexandrite Suite. The drone can fly up to the terrace of the Suite and deposit up to three bottles of champagne in a single trip. The UAV has four arms to fly it up to the deck, and is powered by KDE motors.
"We were brainstorming fun ways for luxury travelers coming through," explained hotel spokeswoman Lindsay Weightman to the Daily News. "One thing kind of led to another and the champagne drone drop was born!"
Not a champagne person? The UAV can also be commissioned for a variety of other uses. “The property is currently working on customizing mini drones to deliver cookies as well as other amenities,” The Mansion at Casa Madrona stated in a release.