Commentary…Drones at Virginia Tech

By William P. Paine

Just before the end of 2013, the Federal Government named Virginia Tech as one of six sites in the country to be designated a Certified Drone Test Sight. Most experts and economists agree that Drones will soon become a fact of everyday life and representatives for Virginia Tech expressed much enthusiasm for this new “Opportunity to Exploit.”

The widespread use of drones seems as inevitable as the tides. The Federal Aviation Administration must make airspace available for these autonomous flying machines by 2015 and businesses seem determined to make the best use of this technology to bolster efficiency and their bottom lines.

The possible uses of drone technology seem almost limitless. In the near future, expect news reports about drone related rescue efforts where an injured individual is found in a remote region.

The fact that drones will be useful is without doubt but whether they will benefit society as a whole is less certain.

Package Delivery Service Companies are already planning to integrate drone technology into their businesses and if the technology allows for this why wouldn’t the Pizza and burger franchises want their own fleet of drones to deliver the goods?

Imagine how neat it will be to get a drone delivered Pizza on Superbowl Sunday and you don’t even have to tip the delivery boy!

That is, of course, because there is no delivery boy. There is no UPS guy, no Postman and considering the accelerated advancement of this technology, eventually, no Pilots or even Truck Drivers!

Is there any doubt that Federal State and local Police forces will soon be clamoring for grant money to buy the latest Drone, claiming that they cannot Protect the Citizenry without the extensive use of autonomous flying vehicles?

Is it the destiny of 21st century Americans to live in a world with drones buzzing to and fro either making deliveries or simply spying on us for the sake of our own “safety?”

On the subject of safety, what happens when Drones collide with other drones, power lines, birds and… people?

As more Drones and autonomous robotic devices become ubiquitous, Jobs once filled by human beings will surely be phased out. Where will these displaced people find employment so that they can afford to order these drone delivered packages?

Virginia Tech is now set to become a pioneer in the development of what will surly be a multi billion dollar industry and they couldn’t be happier.

It’s all part and parcel of society’s headlong rush to develop new technologies and implement them as quickly as possible. Who knows, in twenty years we might all have personal drones hovering above us acting as personal security devises with Internet capability. Politicos, scientists and business types should consider the potential Downside to a brave new world where Autonomous Flying Vehicles fill our skies, Replace our Workers and Enforce our Laws.


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