Four weird ways we’re using drones

UAVs can do a lot more than deliver packages and analyze geography

We’ve already talked about Amazon’s proposed drone highway, the two men who smuggled heroin into California on a drone and how UAVs map U.S. terrain to help prevent wildfires. But drones can do a lot more than deliver packages (of legal and illegal substances) and analyze geography.

1. Cheater, cheater

Chinese high school students’ high-pressure university entrance exams last several days, and cheating attempts are rampant. So to crack down on sneaky peaks at Apple Watches and ear pieces disguised as jewelry, six-propellor drones pick up any signals emanating from the exam building. If they detect anything, they’ll transmit that information to proctors’ tablets in real time.

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2. Like a boss

Drone oversight doesn’t end once you graduate. A new basketball stadium is being built in Sacramento, Calif., and once every day, drones collect video footage of the site. That footage is converted into a 3D image, which is automatically compared to the blueprints, and project managers can see which parts of the building may be falling behind schedule. The University of Illinois team that developed these drones is also testing a system that can monitor a construction site 24/7, showing supervisors how long each task takes to complete.

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3. In the blood

Researchers from Johns Hopkins University in Maryland and Makerere University in Uganada have transported blood samples via drone, and think the method could take off. They were concerned that vibrations from rough landings would affect the samples, but test results for blood transported by drone and by land were virtually identical. Scientists hope to conduct field tests in Africa, where many patients live far from hospitals and labs.

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4. Making music

The first ever drone orchestra performance took place in September 2014. Take a listen.

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