J. D. Heyes
March 14, 2013
Most of the recent news coverage involving drones has focused primarily on nefarious uses for them, such as the potential targeting of American citizens – as publicized recently by Sen. Rand Paul – and to spy on us without first establishing probable cause or reasonable suspicion.
But one man thinks the real emerging market for drones is far less onerous. In fact, he sees drones as a boon to society, not something inherently evil.
John Rimanelli, president and CEO of Detroit Aircraft Corporation, has revived this business which was initially founded in 1922 “to to develop and build unmanned and remotely-controlled autonomous aircraft, or drones,” Detroit CBS affiliate WWJ reported.
Detroit – drone capital of the U.S.?
Using a pair of rented hangers at Coleman A. Young International Airport – closed to commercial passenger traffic but which has to remain functional per Federal Aviation Administration regulations – Rimanelli is developing non-military drones that utilize some of the same technology, but which are destined for peaceful, innovative new uses.
What’s more, he hopes to turn the former Detroit City Airport into the drone capital of the country by leveraging both technology and skills available in Detroit to design and build drones.
“It really stems from a lot of the technologies that are coming from unmanned aircraft that are used by the Defense Department, commonly known as drones,” Rimanelli told WWJ.
One project he is currently developing is a uniquely shaped drone that has a “transitional wing” and is designed as a “single-person drone” that combines vertical liftoff and landing with the ability to fly horizontally. Users would be able to fly autonomously from one place to another, bypassing the hassles of traditional air travel (long lines at TSA security checkpoints, groping by agents, lost luggage, etc.).
In fact, Rimanelli envisions drones  which could be used to package pick-up and delivery, as well as taxis. Others, he says, could be miniaturized and tailored for use as search-and-rescue vehicles, to help guard and protect U.S. borders, inspection of towers and high-tension lines, and so on.
Rimanelli’s company is just one of scores of new drone firms that have sprung up in recent years to develop ever-more-versatile drones that fill a variety of commercial – and even entertainment – needs.
Cool new uses for drones – But privacy remains a concern
Chris Anderson, the former editor of Wired magazine and who now runs the firm 3D Robotics, told CNN/Money one of the most promising uses for drones could be in agriculture.
His company makes a $500 drone that flies itself, using GPS, and is designed to pore over fields for data on crop conditions, including water levels, pest infestations and other signs of trouble or problems. Right now, he said, farmers pay something like $1,000 an hour for a human in an airplane to fly over fields and perform the same functions – an expense that is prohibitive.
“Farmers have no idea what’s going on in the fields,” Anderson said. “It can lead to over irrigation, over pesticide use, all sorts of problems.”
He and others say there is also a growing market for simpler, smaller drones that are marketed to both kids and adults alike, for recreational use. The Parrot AR Drone, for instance, has a 160-foot range and is controlled with a smart phone app. It can be bought at Toys R Us for around $300 and is “aimed at teens and adults that want an enhanced video game experience,” said CNN/Money. “Parrot sales have already exceeded 500,000.”
The biggest concern with drones, of course, remains privacy, an issue Natural News has covered extensive (and will continue to do so).