NONCOMBAT TECHNOLOGY

The use of drones for armed conflict has tended to draw a good deal of scrutiny and indeed criticism, but drones have potential uses far beyond combat. This chapter, which returns the focus to aerial drones because of where many of the developments have been, evaluates the role of unmanned aerial technology for nonlethal purposes, from security objectives such as humanitarian crisis prevention, to immigration enforcement, to commercial deliveries. Nonmilitary drone avionics generally fall into one of two categories: rotary drones and fixed- wing drones. Rotary drones are able to hover and move in any direction, making them ideal for capturing pictures and video, spying, and potentially delivering packages. The battery life of these drones is roughly 30 minutes, requiring them to be used within a short range of their operator. Fixed-wing drones can generally fly for far longer than rotary drones, though they are typically more expensive and can require runways for takeoff and landing. On the other hand, this makes them ideal for surveying and maintenance operations. They cannot hover and do not maneuver particularly well.1 This chapter discusses the emerging non-military applications for these technologies.

 
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