Drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), have been a prominent and controversial topic in the news of late. Today, the Washington-based Stimson Center released its Recommendations and Report on US Drone Policy. The think tank, which assembled a bipartisan panel of former military and intelligence officials for the 81-page report, concluded that “UAVSs should be neither glorified nor demonized. It is important to take a realistic view of UAVs, recognizing both their continuities with more traditional military technologies and the new tactics and policies they enable.”
The report is thoughtful, and balanced, and makes a point that most discussions about drones miss. For the most part, the conversation has primarily been about the great evil that drones could cause—though of course Amazon has been in the news a fair amount by their desire to use drones for shipping packages. But what about the potential good that drones could do? Just because something could be used for great evil doesn’t meant it couldn’t also be used for something virtuous. Although this report focuses on military and government use, it’s interesting to look at the uses of drones for good in nonmilitary activities.
A worthy example is Matternet, a relatively new company that hopes to use drones to bring lifesaving supplies like food and medicine to villages without easy access to roads. From their manifesto:
We founded Matternet on the belief that we should take the most advanced technology where it’s needed most. It’s our fundamental belief that technological solutions will evolve faster and better where the need is most extreme. (more…)