from the swords-to-ploughshares dept
There is a natural tendency to accentuate the negative when it comes to drones -- concentrating on how these "spies the sky" represent a threat to privacy and civil liberties. But as Techdirt has reported before, there are other applications that many might find not just acceptable but welcome. And that's not surprising: like the Internet, drones are just a neutral tool, and as such can be deployed for both good and bad purposes.
Here, for example, is a fascinating idea: using drones to get medical equipment to people faster than ambulances (found via Chris Anderson):
You create an app that anyone trained in first aid signs up to, creating a mobile community. You then station defibrillator-equipped drones on top of tall buildings across the city, linked by sensors. When someone needs help, they, or someone nearby, sends a request. The nearest first-aider accepts the task, and rushes to the site, and the unmanned vehicle sweeps from the sky, delivering the kit where it's needed.
This could have a big impact on the numbers of deaths from heart attacks. According to the same article in Co.Exist quoted above, 76,000 of the 250,000 deaths caused by cardiac arrest outside US hospitals could have been prevented, had the right equipment arrived soon enough. Now, it may not always be enough to use a drone to deliver a defibrillator to heart attack victims, but it seems likely that many tens of thousands of lives could, in theory, be saved in this way.
And of course the idea extends to many other life-threatening situations -- delivering blood or medicines to places that are otherwise hard to reach in time to save the patient. It's a useful reminder that drones aren't necessarily evil, it's how we use them that counts.