Drones may not be just for military operations anymore. Future plans for drones include commercial video surveillance and wildlife conservation efforts. A father in Vermont even tried building his own drone to follow his son around—talk about helicopter parenting.
Secom, a Japanese home and business security company, will offer its business customers a drone service that launches when a property alarm sounds. When an alarm goes off, Secom monitoring personnel will fly the drone, located on the client’s premises, to the zone in alarm to record a crime in progress. Measuring 24 inches wide and weighing 3.5 pounds, the drone flies like a helicopter. It is equipped with a surveillance camera that transmits live video of the crime to the monitoring base. The video will then aid in any future investigation. The service will begin after April 2014 and is expected to cost approximately $58 a month.
To protect endangered rhinos from poachers, one of Kenya's private game reserves also wants to enlist the help of surveillance drones. Ol Pejeta, a 90,000-acre non-profit wildlife conservancy, has four of the world’s last remaining seven northern white rhinos. Ol Pejeta is hoping to raise the $35,000 needed for its first drone that will be equipped with a live-streaming camera to track rhinos chipped with RFID tags. In addition to protecting rhinos, the real-time video can also be streamed online to the public to raise awareness and promote education and conservation efforts. Rhino poaching is a huge problem in Kenya. A rhino horn can be sold for $12,000, the equivalent of 30 years worth of income. Kenya has the world's third largest rhino population—around 600 black and 300 white rhinos.
Lastly, Paul Wallich, a contributing editor for IEEE Spectrum, built a drone to monitor his grade-school son on his 400-meter walk to the bus stop. Wallich said the drone was fairly easy to build, but it doesn’t work well in windy conditions, and the GPS only works up to 10 meters. So until he can design one that works the way he wants—and he’s working on it—or his son outgrows walks to the bus stop, Wallich’s son is stuck with his dad, which is probably less embarrassing than a drone. You can read Wallich’s article here.