What are Drones?

Drones are unmanned aerial vehicles that are controlled autonomously by computers or pilots with remote controls. They were innovated in the early 1900s for military personnel training and typically leveraged in operations that are too dangerous or time-consuming for humans [manned flights?]. Still most commonly used for military purposes [still true?], drones have been deployed for a wide range of tasks, such as policing and community surveillance and security, filmmaking, and the surveying of agriculture and crops. In the past century, drone technology has advanced users’ abilities to extensively view objects and landscapes below, as well as to detect changes in environmental conditions. Features including biological and chemical sensors, electromagnetic spectrum sensors, and infrared cameras make these detailed observations possible. While legal and ethical concerns have been raised by many over the prospect of constantly being monitored by these vehicles, new civil aviation programs and experiments that include drones reflect a growing use of the technology. There are not yet concrete applications for teaching and learning [I would question this], but the continuous progress of drones in the military and consumer sectors make them compelling to watch closely over the next few years.

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(1) How might this technology be relevant to the educational sector you know best?

  • Can provide remote data on crop health. - dgeller dgeller May 3, 2016 - jreich jreich May 29, 2016!
  • - greg.johll greg.johll May 6, 2016 I believe especially in agriculture and other environmental areas the capacity to use drones for observational purposes (crop health, animal health, environmental impacts of large events e.g. floods) will be valuable in providing information that can be used to provide relevant educational programming. - esagor esagor May 23, 2016 - jreich jreich May 29, 2016!- amy.dronberger amy.dronberger Jun 1, 2016
  • Tremendous ability to provide a new perspective on natural resources, breaking people out of habitual modes of thinking. - esagor esagor May 23, 2016
  • Drones will become an important data collection device by gaining the aerial data that can be analyzed and used for further education. - amy.dronberger amy.dronberger Jun 1, 2016

(2) What themes are missing from the above description that you think are important?

  • While teaching agents using the technology is important it is also important to stress how we can teach agents to use the tech in the field effectively. - dgeller dgeller May 3, 2016 Well said Dan. - esagor esagor May 23, 2016
  • I suggested a few edits to the statement at the top. The statement should probably also mention drone use in search and rescue operations. - esagor esagor May 23, 2016
  • The statement overall seems a bit outdated. Drone / UAS technology is rapidly maturing, and is now in widespread use in mapping, construction, agriculture, and other fields. - esagor esagor May 23, 2016
  • I think it is important to note that the regulations are still in flux and the universities that have been granted a Section 333 exemption can still only use drones for very specific purposes. I think they will be a very valuable tool, but I also think the final regulatory decisions will impact how much and in what ways drones can be used and we are likely years from that decision. - amy.dronberger amy.dronberger Jun 1, 2016

(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on higher education?

  • Drones will provide a massive amount of data and a way to do field work without leaving the office. This will drastically effect how we teach Extension Agents. - dgeller dgeller May 3, 2016 I agree with the idea here but not literally without leaving the office. New FAA rules are much looser, but do still require line-of-sight. And flight times are limited enough that you really have to be close to the flight area. - esagor esagor May 23, 2016
  • - greg.johll greg.johll May 6, 2016 Integrating the data gathered by drones with other technologies may provide a way of extending specialized knowledge to parts of the state where it may not otherwise quickly reach. For example, being able to share the drone footage via YouTube with a specialist based hundreds of miles away can quickly lead to some early diagnostics which will inform future actions. - jreich jreich! I agree. this information can also be used for AR or VR.
  • Restating my point from above - they give us literally a new perspective on natural resources. Satellite and traditional aerial imagery can do the same, but UAS enable much more local, updated, and higher resolution imagery, as well as obliques and other angles not traditionally available. - esagor esagor May 23, 2016
  • Major impacts on fields involving volume estimation (i.e. piled timber, gravel, etc), movement of soil, and so on (construction, flood mitigation, etc). - esagor esagor May 23, 2016

(4) Do you have or know of a project working in this area?

  • We have begun teaching workshops on Natural Resource Applications of UAS (example). Expect to purchase a UAS (previously have used one supplied by our hired instructor) and expand this teaching in the next year. - esagor esagor May 23, 2016
  • OK State University just launched the Unmanned Systems Research Institute and is supporting military, aerospace, and search and rescue research. - amy.dronberger amy.dronberger Jun 1, 2016

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