It doesn’t seem that foreign of a concept: remote-control, flying apparatus, camera. Not to get all Seinfeld on everyone, but what’s the deal with drones? They are a far cry from the RC helicopters that one might have toyed with in their youth but remain a mystery to most of the public. Despite some of the exposure, good or bad, that drone technology has received, the commercial product has not been given a chance by most. There is a decent culture behind drones, or as some call them Unmanned Air Vehicles (UAVs), and there are interesting applications for them in events.
Smith told us that there are great “commercial, civil, and humanitarian efforts” that drones are capable of and “as these concepts gain traction and public notice, the current ‘evil’ perspective of anything containing the word ‘drone’ will soon fade away.” It’s hard to disagree with that sentiment, with delivery services like Amazon experimenting with drone technology to deliver small packages for same-day service or humanitarian companies like senseFly using drones to gather relief data without interfering with rescue operations. The applications for events are still being imagined, with filming being one of the most popular reasons to fly.
Gamifying a drone experience within your event can engage attendees and add a unique entertainment value to the night. Gamification is a concept that applies game-design or mechanics to a certain context. In the case of drones, there are races held among drone flyers that are being hailed as the new NASCAR, you can also find fun simple ways to gamify your event experience with drones. A drone could carry a small basket as attendees attempt to get their business card in the basket to be entered into a drawing for a special prize; that could also be a great way for people to get each other’s business cards, even if by accident!
While we know what drones are capable of, they are not an autonomous entity quite yet. Smith tells us, “Drones and their capabilities will not shape our future, but their users will.” The drone community is growing and finding its feet, “Pick up a remote and see what the fuss is all about…[it’s] a considerably cheap hobby to get involved in.” Having an emerging technology at your event can catch the attention of attendees but so can a malfunction, and with drones you risk robots raining on your parade and your people. Smith tells us that any good drone owner will “be proactive when flying and not reactive” and “have a plan in mind before leaving the ground.” This means having someone that is experienced in drone operation. If you are outside, contact the local airport and check any flight restrictions, and if you are flying in population dense areas you should have some sort of accident insurance for your event.
Smith has had some provacative interactions with those that are interested in his tech, he’s had to deal with “moral and ethical” decisions. He said, “You would be surprised what some people ask you to do (spying, mostly), one of the most important things right now is to recognize that whenever you are the one person at an event with a drone you are the one person there representing the UAV Community and should carry yourself as such, because it only takes one perfect mistake to ruin it for everyone else.”
He has 5 great tips for you or your drone operator:
1. Stay vigilant of any obstacles: trees, banners, other drones, or even ceilings.
2. Always have a goal, flying is fun but those batteries can’t last forever, know why you’re flying and get it done.
3. Be mindful of people, treat your drone as if it could malfunction at any moment, fly high enough that you can escape them or shout a warning before it makes it to the ground.
4. Outside? Watch the wind, don’t fly in a thunderstorm, and don’t fly your drone into the sun, it’s an easy way to lose track of it.
5. Stay below 400 feet and set a timer to remind you when it is time to bring it in, you don’t want to risk a battery failure.