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These days, everyone seems to be talking about drones: whether it’s a new model you can fly around your local park, or headlines announcing their potential for mass surveillance. Are they a toy, a weapon, or a tool?
This month, Dave takes a look at drones from the perspective of three different people. For Faraz, one of our Restart volunteers, drones are an interesting piece of equipment that pose more challenges than you might expect. Faraz shows us his mini-quadcopter and explains the appeal for someone who likes to tinker with their gadgets.
But we are not all as technically clued-up as Faraz. With the consumer drone market booming, there’s a risk that all those accidental crashes might fill our e-waste dumps with extinct flying machines.
We talk to Coby Leuschke from Rocketship Systems Inc about how the DIY community are using open-source software as an alternative to mass-produced or “disposable” drones. Coby is the man behind online platform Boxbotix, which makes it easy for people to design, build and maintain their own drones, which last much longer than the versions that might have flown off the shelves at Christmas.
Drones can have much more serious applications than just a whiz around the park. Our third guest is Ivan Gayton, who used drones with Doctors Without Borders for mapping disease in subsaharan Africa.
It remains to be seen what kind of drone will triumph in the future: will it be the disposable toy that finds its way to dumps or more hackable and repairable models, both buy-and-fly and those emerging from open-source communities?