Will Drones do the Dirty Work in Self-Repairing Cities of the Future?

You’ve seen them in the movies. Hovering thousands of metres above the ground, sending grainy images to a Bond villain’s lair and delivering death from above. It’s fair to say that drones have, in general, got some pretty bad press over the years. But all of a sudden things are changing; drones are being embraced. They’re now an essential accessory for ambitious photographers, a useful tool for farmers and a revolutionary piece of equipment for broadcasters. To truly ease our worries though, it’s probably time that drones started pulling their weight in the battle of good versus evil. And whatever you may think about the use of drones for military purposes, one thing we can all agree on is that if drones can help make our cities cleaner, safer and more secure, we’ll be on to a winner.  

Drones are currently being used to inspect cell towers, providing obvious safety benefits and proving cheaper, too. These towers, found across America and, indeed, the world, require constant servicing and safety checks, and often engineers are forced to climb up to great heights just to see things for themselves. With drones, high quality footage can be streamed live allowing engineers to carry out an inspection with their feet firmly on the ground. One such company is Top Flight Digital Media, who regularly carry out service checks on cell towers in Maryland. Although FAA regulations and no fly zones continue to restrict the use of drones in industries such as this to an extent, the future holds a range of similar possibilities.    

Take, for example, the use of drones for other inspection purposes. Many buildings and bridges require frequent safety checks to monitor architectural integrity. Bridges in particular are incredibly difficult to inspect, often putting workers at risk in the process. Many New Yorkers, for example, will be well aware of their city’s crumbling architecture. But before anything can be done, problems have to be diagnosed. There’s no doubt that soon drones will offer the most effective and efficient way of doing this.

All this points to self-repairing cities of the future. Places where potholes, damaged architecture and tall structures are automatically checked and maintained by drones. In fact, researchers in Leeds, England have recently been supported with over £4 million ($6.5 million) worth of funding to develop a nationwide infrastructure for smart cities, where drones will monitor and repair everything from streetlights to pipes.  

But it’s not just through inspection and maintenance that drones offer improved safety for us all. A number of projects are currently underway to explore how drones can help assist during emergency situations. Check back here soon for another feature on this to discover how drones can be used for everything from earthquakes and natural disasters to autonomous ambulance services.