There’s been a lot of buzz about drones in the last couple of years, ever since Amazon’s Jeff Bezos’ famously laid out his case for drone deliveries on 60 Minutes back in 2013. But now there’s a new potential use for drones and so-called biobots that seems like it’ll be a tremendous boost to disaster recovery efforts.
Researchers at North Carolina State University have created a software/hardware solution that facilitates the deployment of insect biobots and drones into complex disaster areas – such as a collapsed building – for mapping and assessment purposes. In a nutshell, first responders could deploy insect-like biobots into a disaster zone, along with an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) that would serve as a beacon to guide the movement of the biobots until the mapping of the area is complete. The technology would generally be utilized for destroyed structures or natural disaster zones that cannot be accessed via GPS.
I love the notion of biobot deployments, and I think the concept can be useful for each utility sector. For example, water utilities could deploy biobots to check for water infrastructure damage or test for poisonous chemicals in the water supply. Natural gas utilities could deploy the technology to seal leaks from the inside of pipes. And electric utilities could deploy the bots for damage assessment or wire repair purposes.
The bottom line is that there’s little doubt that drone technology as well as biobots will change the world, much like the internet has. Really, the only question is when.