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Aerial view across Riverlight at Nine Elms

News Capturing the extraordinary with drones

31 March 2015 Daniel Curtis

They just will not fly away at the moment.

Unmanned aerial vehicles – more commonly known as drones – continue to grab the headlines as they become more and more popular.

But it does seem the focus on their use is switching from hobbyists to professionals, trying to innovate the technology to better businesses and innovation.

At the beginning of this month the House of Lords called for an owners register to be created, to help regulate the commercial use of drones. But the special committee also estimated that 150,000 UAV-related jobs across the EU could be created in the next 35 years. (Over 4,000 new jobs annually is no small figure!)

Setbacks in the development of regulations and of the technology itself are bound to happen, but the quirky uses of drones are becoming more and more varied.

The most popular use of UAVs seems to be for recording the ground or events from a bird’s-eye view. But the on-board cameras can also have a second purpose – creating completely unique videos by manipulating the use of a drone.

The countryside is known for its fresh air, expanses of fields and being the perfect environment for keeping livestock. But what happens when you add a little technology into the mix? We are not talking tractors and combine harvesters, but of course drones.

One farmer in Ireland had the novel idea of using an UAV… to herd sheep. Sheepdogs will still be able to serve their purpose for years and years to come (according to the National Farmers’ Union), but using a drone to perform such a vital task does create a sensational video. You can be view it on the BBC News website.

Sticking with nature and this next video is not strictly shot from a drone – but it does show their capabilities. Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime; show the world how you fish with a drone and create a viral video. That is exactly what media company RYOT did. And 90,000 views later it’s still as popular as ever. Is this the first fish ever caught with a drone?

And ARS Electronica really know how to make a scene. This is quite possibly the most unique use of drones we have seen so far. It is not one, not two, but a swarm of UAVs in the night sky above London. And does it not make a spectacular show?

Drone innovations continue as aerial photography grows. In the past six months – when UAVs have gone from gimmick to commercial juggernauts – they have been tinkered with and turned into something much more than just hovering hunks of metal. Imagine where remote photography will be in another six months time!

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