The drone attack claimed by Yemeni rebels on key Saudi Arabian oil refineries that took place on September 14, 2019 has brought the powerful technology back into the news. Unfortunately, the strikes that disrupted roughly 5% of the world's oil supply has also contributed more ammunition to the overarching negative connotations the word "drone" conjures. "Drone" is a very broad term. Colloquially, drones are usually thought of as remote-piloted flying devices used by militaries for surveillance and offensive tactics or by civilians for recreational or business purposes. Merriam-Webster defines it as "an unmanned aircraft or ship guided by remote control or onboard computers."
This was said yesterday during a breakfast debate organized by Policy Forum, a network of over 70 Tanzanian civil society organisations, under the theme: Digital platforms for social impact: The role of technology in addressing social impacts. During the meeting, Shule Direct, a civil society organisation dealing with education, introduced its artificial intelligence dubbed: Ticha Kidevu.
Imagine this breakthrough: the ocean off South Carolina being explored by drones that act like flying fish -- zipping over the sea surface and diving below. They're considered drone "gliders," flying to specific programmed spots in the ocean before going under to take measurements before resurfacing to fly back. "Just imagine, in a few years, we will have swarms of these things," said Christian de Moustier, IEEE Oceanic Engineering Society president. With that and other emerging technology, "we will have an amazing amount of data, ways to monitor the changes in the ocean and see where the changes are going," he said. And there will be torpedo-like, remotely operated submarines that will record and give forecasters temperatures in the water under a storm's core -- a critical, previously missing piece of data that already helped forecast Hurricane Florence's strength and track.
It's 2035, the Second American Civil War has been won by the other side, and you find yourself in a heap of trouble with Attorney General Logan Paul. He has dispatched an all-seeing eye-in-the-sky to tail you, an agile flying machine equipped with 13 cameras and a top speed of 25 miles per hour. The drone knows your face, your gait and your clothing. It hovers persistently behind your back, moving when you move, stopping when you stop, resisting every effort to shake it. You run into the woods, but you still can't lose it.
Xiaomi, the world's second-most-valuable startup, launched its first consumer drone on Wednesday and it didn't disappoint. The Mi Drone can capture 4K video, automatically avoids any obstacles and costs 300 less than the best-selling comparable product on the market. It seems like a sure-fire hit and a way for Xiaomi to recoup losses from slowing smartphone sales. The only problem is that Xiaomi's drone may never be seen outside China and the company's inability to scale globally continues to hinder growth. Consumer drones are arguably the first consumer electronics category where Chinese companies are defining the market and dominating sales.