#DroneLyfe: Pros and Cons

One of my best friends admits she is slightly repulsed by drones. Supportive, right? But we both agree that drones are compelling, and can be used for both good and bad.

If I had a dollar for every time someone suggested how I could use my drone to spy on or sneak into people’s homes, I would be able to buy a completely new drones. But those are actually awful suggestions, and I’m the first to say that would be horrible if people did that.

With any new technology, there are pros and cons.

*this list does not include attack/military drones, but rather refers to drones on the average consumer market.

Pros Cons
Opportunities for use are endless! Set up a Google news alert with the word drone, and every day you’ll probably get a new story about some scientist or businessperson using drones for a new creative use. Whether it’s spotting pollution in a river or delivering pizza, people are constantly thinking of ways to use drones. Opportunities for use are endless. Would it be incredibly easy to fly over private land and trespass without even hopping over barbed wire and fighting off guard dogs? Yes. You could really easily enter someone’s private property and spy or gather information. But that’s illegal, and all around not cool.
Cheap alternative to helicopters: rather than pay the fuel cost, the pilot fees, etc., a drone can do a similar job for a fraction of the cost. Researchers trying to spot animals or TV stations showing traffic often rely on helicopters, and this could reduce that need Drone pilots don’t have certifications like helicopter pilots (yet): But should they? This is a great debate, and for hobby use, I don’t think a certification is necessary at this point. But if drones are going to be as common as helicopters, there needs to be some degree of regulation so they don’t hit each other, and so only qualified pilots are flying over dense areas like freeways.
Can squeeze into tight spaces: A helicopter can’t fly through forests or into tight alleys. Imagine a car chase. Instead of sending police officers at dangerous speeds through populated areas, a drone could do the same, or at least track the suspect in dense areas like alleys or forests. Definitely creep factor here. It would be easy to hover in a forest or alley, but again,  that’s creepy, so just don’t do it.
Loud and large: This is a good thing, because it makes drones so that you can’t really spy on people. People see a drone and think something along the lines of it being a UFO, and that’s good, because then it helps people be aware of their surroundings. Loud and large: The loud buzz can certainly be annoying, and they can get heavy and cumbersome to transport, but definitely the related pro outweighs the cons here.
New technology: now is the time to research and engineer this product. The more consumers buy them, the more money and suggestions engineers will have to improve them. The technology has faults and is far from perfect – a mix of both equipment and human error. They crash. Maybe a propeller pops off, or the software just crashes. No technology is ever perfect, but it should be pretty close to that before we send these up in the air on a mainstream level. 

Drone flight over Balboa Island

If there’s always money in the banana stand, then I want to fly over it with a drone. That’s why I went to Balboa Island early in the morning, when no one was out, to explore the island via my DJI Phantom. Check out what I saw, from my drone’s bird’s-eye view!

Huge thanks to my friends over at Wild Pilots for being my copilots on this shoot, as well as DJ/Producer Greg Krish for the awesome soundtrack.

Balboa Island Ferry

I promise, the next installment of Drone Girl Video is coming soon! But for now, here’s one final teaser photo preview. Yesterday, I had you guess where it is, but I’ll let you in on a secret, it’s Balboa Island! The sign in the bottom left corner of this photo gives it away. Frozen bananas, anyone?New Image

Meetup with other SoCal dronies!

Screen shot 2013-08-03 at 7.41.27 PMToday I met the fine folks of the LA/OC Drone User Group!

Let me tell you, this is a brilliant, passionate group of people. They fly drones for different reasons; some like to build, and others like to gather unique video. If you are in the area and interested in drones, this is the place to be! I came for fly day, where I met tons of people who have built their own stuff from scratch, used kits, and really know all about gear.

And then there’s people like me (ok, really just me) who have no idea about gear and just want to learn. Everyone is groovy and helpful, and I learned a ton! We flew around a big dirt field, and my Phantom held up against all the other spiffy gear these guys have. Drone people are great!

Video: Fire fuels prairie revival

More videos are coming soon, but to old you over, here is an uncovered relic from Drone Girl’s past:

I didn’t always fly under Drone Girl moniker. When I first got into drones, it was as photographer for the Missouri School of Journalism’s drone journalism program, the first of its kind in the nation, where footage captured from the drone was used for NPR-member station KBIA.

This footage is shot by my former colleague Brendan Gibbons, and produced and edited by yours truly. It goes to show the scope of images that a drone can capture. Imagine a fire that starts too quickly for a helicopter to deploy, or that is too hot or dangerous to send a helicopter over. In order to capture video of the fire, a drone is a relatively easy and cheap alternative, allowing us to see the direction of the fire and its size from a safe, aerial vantage point. Continue reading Video: Fire fuels prairie revival

Find Drone Girl elsewhere on the web

droneinstagram

Can’t get enough of Drone Girl? Eh, I’m willing to bet you can. But if you absolutely, positively can’t, then find me on Twitter and Instagram!

Check out my Twitter account, @TheDroneGirl, to get links to some of my top blog posts, as well as links to other relevant drone stories in the news, and the most up-to-date information on where Drone Girl is flying next.

For photos posted here (as well as some bonus, never-before-seen images) in vintage, vignetted, sepia-toned glory, then check out my Instagram account. It’s my personal account, so you’ll have to put up with lots of sans-drone photos, including many from my kitchen documenting my obsessive cooking habit. But you’ll also get an occasional drone picture thrown in there!

I’m always looking for suggestions, so let me know your thoughts by leaving a comment below or through my contact page!

First EVER video: flying over O’Neill Park

I’m so excited to announce the release of my first video! It’s pretty basic (Drone Girl is pretty lo-tech, operating off a beater 2010 MacBook with a broken keyboard and made using iMovie). But I’m proud to have put together something, especially since that was one of my goals, as stated in my latest Flight Diary.

This video was shot entirely using my GoPro and Drone, and I basically just flew around the park, trying to get a variety of shots. Please comment with your thoughts and suggestions!

Video shot, produced and edited by Sally French, with music provided through Free Music Archive by Podington Bear.

Drone Girl

Reporting on drones, sometimes with drones