There are drones all around you. Watch out, it’s slipping! Hey, welcome to Ask an Expert.
I’m David Roberts. We take questions from Twitter,
and hopefully answer them. A bird! Hey, here we go! Alright!
Here we have a question from @jmancastro. How far are we from
solar-powered with the energy efficiency to fly indefinitely?
Imagine the possibilities… Probably solar-powered drones. So, well,
we’ve already had solar-powered drones. DARPA did a project a few years ago
and had a drone that stayed up long enough that they got bored and
after a couple of weeks, brought it down. But I know, too, there are
some really interesting projects. Boeing got funded by DARPA to do
a solar-powered drone that stays above 50,000 feet, so that’s above
all the clouds, for five years. And, the real issue’s been having a battery
so that when the sun goes down you can still keep operating
while the sun’s down. But, the cloud cover has
never really been an issue. OK! Here we go!
Thank you, bird! This is from andre_b_swart. Will drones
take over the job of insurance surveyors? What would be
the real-life application? Great question, Andre. Drones, I think,
are definitely already being used to inspect things, and that includes
surveying. But, you know, the idea really behind a drone the way we think of it today
is a hovering vehicle that is carrying a camera anywhere
in three-dimensional space where there’s air. What that means is that you can
now inspect bridges and dams and roads and high-power lines and do
all of that very efficiently, while before you used to have to dangle,
in fact, you still do have to dangle people off of bridges,
in ropes, risking their life, and taking a lot of time
and effort and energy. Today, you can actually do the job
that those surveyors do, say, on the Bay Bridge, which
HaloDrop did, I think, a few months ago, in a single two-hour period, what normally
takes a group of people an entire week. My phone… Hey, here we go! Another one.
Thank you, Mr. Bird! Wade Needham asks the question:
Could drones be used to facilitate tourism in eco-sensitive areas
creating minimal footprints? Great question, Wade!
What I like about that Wade, is that, most of the drones
are almost all electric, so there would be no fuel
emissions in those areas. What I probably think would be challenging
is that drones today are kinda noisy. So, what you’d have to do is actually
fly a typical one of the smaller drones above about a 150 feet.
And then you don’t hear them. And that would be a minimal noise impact,
but I think it would be very likely that we’ll see drones being used where
flying through things like the Grand Canyon and you’ll be able to get online
and actually view that maybe even with an Oculus Rift,
Helmed or other 3D imager and get that full experience
without actually going there. There are already drones that look
and fly exactly like hummingbirds, and, a wonderful project
by Arrow Environment, you can watch that online with
a small hummingbird-like drone flying around with a camera on it,
inside, coming outside, and then, the real challenge is
that they don’t fly for very long. But, really, an amazing technology. Hey, hello bird! Here we go!
Got it! Gotcha, little guy! Thank you!
This is from Steve Bud! Will delivery drones leave those
damn missed delivery notices on my door like UPS?
That is a great question. It’s gonna be interesting
how delivery drones work. If you looked at the patents
that Amazon filed, those patents say that the delivery
drones will actually follow you around. So, if you’re not at home,
they’re gonna know where you are through a whole set of means;
one of them might just be the fact that you’re carrying
your cellphone on you. And they will go out and find you
and deliver your package there. So, there’ll be no notes. Hey, thanks for watching,
this is Ask an Expert, I’m David Roberts, please subscribe
and next week we’ll have a new topic.