Drone innovations of 2016 – what did the industry see this past year?

2016 has certainly been an interesting time, sure to be long remembered as the year that we lost many creative and inspirational souls, as well as when politics took a U-turn across the world! Amongst this news, the world of drones had lot of moments that are worth highlighting, celebrating and reflecting upon as we look forward to what 2017 might bring. So – what did the industry see in 2016?

Amazon finally made its first successful drone delivery!
It seems as if Amazon has been promising its long-awaited delivery drones for years now, and this December our dreams were realised as the e-tailer celebrated its first successful flight, as part of an on-going research and testing project. Although the specialist drone didn’t have a long way to fly to reach its end customer, this is certainly a breakthrough moment for the industry, and could pave the way for future developments in the area in 2017.

America changed its aviation laws, enabling new business
Late in the summer of 2016, the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) announced the launch of its new Part 107 rule. This rule is the first of its kind to primarily concern the safety of unmanned aircraft, highlighting the growing prominence of these aerial vehicles within the wider world of aviation. The rule looks set to help many new, innovative drone based businesses thrive in the US – read our blog post to learn more.

Drones became consumable, saving lives
As well as being great tools for photography and delivery of consumer goods, the potential that drone technology has for saving lives is something that continues to be explored, with more and more police forces, fire services and medical teams investing in this versatile aircraft. This year a prototype drone was developed that could help to realise these goals. Pouncer was designed by engineer Nigel Gifford to be used in disaster zones to deliver aid.

The wing structure is to be made from an edible material, while additional food will also be stored in the drone. Once the food has been delivered, the remaining drone structure is made from wood so it can be broken and burnt to cook the supplies it has delivered. What’s more, the fire can be used to stay warm, offering critical heat and food to aid relief operations, keeping people in disaster zones safer for longer.

Drones target disease
Every year brings a new outbreak of disease that spreads at uncontrollable rates. This year saw the Zika virus devastate nations, yet Microsoft and officials from Harris County, Texas used drones with special sensors attached to quickly identify areas with high volumes of mosquitoes that carried the virus. With this information, they could notify health officials and set up traps to help control the spread of disease.

These are just a few of the many incredible breakthroughs that the drone industry saw in 2016 – what were your top drone moments, and what do you hope to see in 2017?

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