Positive applications of drone aircraft are only now being fully explored, according to leading experts in the field.
International media law expert David Goldberg says that drones have garnered an unfair reputation as tools of the military, yet can have a number of hugely beneficial non-military applications.
“There is a pervasive perception that [drones] are nasty, brutish and ugly. Some of them can be like that, that’s true, and can do fairly dangerous and damaging things,” Dr Goldberg said. “The point of the story is that it all depends what you put onto it.”
Dr Goldberg says that drones are a tool which can limit human risk and provide valuable data to scientists and journalists in dangerous situations.
“For example think Fukushima, you might want to use a drone in that context because you could fly it into a nuclear reactor,” Dr Goldberg said.
Walkley award winning journalist Mark Corcoran, head of the ABC’s fledgling drone journalism program, says that drones are a valuable tool for journalists to gain unprecedented access into difficult or hazardous environments.
“Just last week Médecins Sans Frontières in Liberia were building one of their Ebola treatment centres. They commissioned a freelance journalist … who conducted a series of flyovers of their camp. MSF could get immediately get an indication of what was going on,” Mr Corcoran said.
“That to me is a perfect application of this technology in a high risk environment.”
Mr Corcoran says that recent public debate over drone use will be quashed once the benefits of utilising the technology are made clear.
“If you can demonstrate positive applications of this technology, it becomes irrelevant … If you can demonstrate safe and positive applications, the rest will take care of itself,” Mr Corcoran said.