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Career death from above
Hover-commerce hasn’t really landed in the U.S. yet, but when it does, these are the gigs that will be disrupted by Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs).
Package delivery could be the (job) killer app of the coming robot air attack. Amazon.com, of course, is the elephant in the room, but the packages they’ll be delivering will be much smaller than any pachyderm …
Small packages, huge changes
… and that’s perfect, says Amazon, given that 86 percent of the packages they ship weigh under five pounds.
Still awaiting changes in Federal Highway Administration (FAA) regulations that will allow Amazon Prime Air to get off the ground, the package delivery business is nonetheless primed for quite a bit of turbulence.
They're in the pipeline
If you have the word roustabout on your resume, you’ve got some new competition in the job market.
That’s because energy companies such as BP are utilizing drones to inspect pipelines and infrastructure, especially in unforgiving environments like the one highlighted here in a company video from Prudhoe Bay, Alaska.
Judging by the proliferation of UAV services from companies with names like Microdrones.com and Steadicopter.com, this burgeoning industry will soon be booming.
Film at 11, drones right now
News, weather, and traffic pilots better be planning their retirements now, because an eye-in-the-sky drone army reportedly will soon be snapping up many of their gigs.
And in other news, TV stations that could never afford pricey copters and pilots will soon be in the game, too. The Radio Television Digital News Association calls drones “The latest must-have toys for your newsroom,” so the skywriting is on the wall.
Stargaze with the worst of 'em
Now here are some people we really wouldn’t mind putting out of work: the paparazzi.
Unfortunately, while photo drones will put some individual ‘razzis out of work, new high-tech UAVs could make the problem of snooping on celebrities even worse, according to CBS News.
After all, efficiency isn’t necessarily a benefit if all you’re doing more efficiently is violating people’s privacy rights.
Self-flying freight planes?
We all know Google, Apple, and others are racing to develop self-driving cars. Yet while self-flying planes are still quite a ways down the runway, delivery drones like this DHL model on the island of Juist in Northern Germany are a first step.
For now, the packages delivered are small shipments of medicine for the island’s pharmacy, but eventually, the sky’s the limit.
Up in the air, down on the farm
Crop dusters could soon find themselves phased out as new ag technology is phased in. That’s because the FAA is now allowing UAV use for herbicide and pesticide spraying.
Not just for crops
Among the reasons cited for allowing farm drone use are “reduced chemical usage, reduced operator and other human exposure to chemicals, no crop damage or soil compaction and greater fuel efficiency.”
Another possible application: security. This 2014 photo shows a drone built to fend off farm thieves and attackers in South Africa.
Construction sites, minus the street harassment
Are flying robots the future of road construction? Trade magazine Equipment World wants to know, and so do we. Turns out the construction industry is already starting to use UAVs on job sites to aid in surveying, aerial inspections, and security.
Book it down under
Because the FAA hasn’t yet allowed many commercial drone flights in the U.S., much of the hover-commerce action is overseas, as with this textbook delivery system test from Australian startup Zookal.
People who crawl around bridges to do government inspections could be out of a job.
Based on the findings of a study by the FHA and the Georgia Department of Transportation, UAVs would likely do the job more safely and efficiently. Technicians would still need to control the drones – for now – but fully autonomous inspector bots are a future possibility.
Drones could go deep
Pilots, surveyors, and engineers could soon face new pressures as the mining industry employs more drones to do all or part of their jobs.
Aerial surveying, safety mapping, and prospecting will all benefit from this technology shift, which could also significantly reduce costs. The website Canadian Mining & Energy notes that drones might work especially well in open pit mines, where hi-def terrain photos could reveal how much material has been moved daily.
Flying assistant for Indiana Jones
Professors hot to advance their research may now have less need for assistants and more need for drones.
In one example from an increasing number of cases involving UAVs uncovering ancient ruins, a professor in New Mexico found a 1,000-year-old village buried in the desert using thermal-imaging drones to see beneath the surface.
“Just a few days work allowed us to do something which would have taken a decade of work,” Dr. John Kantner told CBS News.
Best known for exploring planetary bodies such as Mars and Pluto, NASA has also been experimenting closer to home with its Global Hawk drone aircraft. Designed to observe tropical cyclones, as seen in this image of tropical storm Frank, the Global Hawk provides sophisticated remote sensing including radar, HD photography, and data for meteorological analysis.
Big science? Very cool. But that’s one small step for a machine, one less job for a pilot.
Real estate photography
Helicopter jocks and the photogs who hire them are on the verge of losing out on lucrative business shooting for realtors, thanks to a creeping infestation of drones.
As noted previously, the FAA has allowed very few UAVs into our airspace, but with new regulations pending, that’s about to change.
Beer me, drone!
Minnesota ice fishermen got frozen out by the FAA after Lakemaid Beer’s UAV was banned from flying the beverages to Mille Lacs Lake. As reported by CNN and others, regulators grounded the hops-hauling drones back in 2014.
Clearly, the brewski-tech pioneers at Lakemaid were just ahead of their time, and we can only hope our meddling government overlords will soon right this lunker of an injustice.
Because, as anyone who’s been ice fishing will attest, you pretty much need beer to do the job right. And walking to shore on a resupply mission over the ice and snow is just no fun.