The Future Drone-Centric City
” Amazon has been busy testing out its new Prime Air initiative at a secret location in the English countryside. The service’s promise of a 30-minute delivery by specially designed drones may look like click-bait PR, but it’s an early sign of the significant changes coming to cities around the world.
For the moment, much of the hype around drones is full of caveats: safety is always the first priority, and nobody quite knows the full extent of what’s possible. There’s still uncertainty about how new services will weave their way through airspace – let alone the inevitable tangle of regulations.
Prime Air is likely to take four to five years to become a mainstream service, as public acceptance and demand evolves alongside the business model. But in the meantime, there is going to be a tidal wave of change in both the technology itself, and the public’s attitude towards it.
Civilian Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) are like the first motorised cars: they have started out as a toy – and sometimes a hazardous one at that. But they will, with time, become normal and form the basis of a new way of living and working.
For one thing, the need for airspace will lead to a push towards decluttering of features such as satellite dishes, and the removal of any unnecessary “sky furniture”, such as telecommunications, electricity wires and billboards.
Engineers may also need to find ways to map out street lighting and transmitter masts, as well as keeping track of other drones, in order to simplify the vast quantity and variety of visual data the UAV’s sensors and pilots have to deal with. Networks of UAV landing pads, recharging hubs and air traffic control stations will be created, sited on top of tall buildings.”
In response, the urban environment will need to adapt. Perhaps the scale of urban transformation not be as extreme as it was with cars – after all, drones don’t require large-scale infrastructure such as roads and bridges. But the changes will still be many and far-reaching.”