drones

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The word “drone” holds some negative connotations. However, some believe that commercial drones could help boost the economy. Aaron Cook, director of aviation at Northwestern Michigan College, is one of those people. He joined us today on Stateside.

Cook says when people understand what drones are, what they are not, and what they can do, they will realize the many business opportunities and safety opportunities these drones can provide. They could possibly improve the quality of life and increase productivity.

So what is a drone?

It’s basically a flying robot. It is an aircraft that does not need a human on board, but is controlled by people on the ground using GPS communication technology.

Cook emphasized that drones are not armed, specifically ones flying over U.S. soil, and are not intended to be used to invade citizens' privacy.

They are only meant for commercial use. BP was just approved by the Federal Aviation Administration to use drones in Alaska to monitor pipelines, roads, and equipment. Cook said drones can be used for similar options here in Michigan.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Peace activists plan to rally against the nation’s military drone program outside the gates of the Battle Creek Air National Guard base on Saturday.

Just this week, a pair of U.S. drone attacks killed sixteen people in Pakistan.  It’s the first attacks this year.     

Brian Terrell is with Voices for Creative Nonviolence.   He says the drone program is being abused.

Electrical Engineering and Computer Science / University of Michigan

Jeffrey P. Bezos, the CEO of Amazon, recently turned a few heads with his announcement that within a few years he expects deliveries to your home courtesy of unmanned aerial vehicles — also known as drones.

It’s been predicted that by 2025, there could be 175,000 of these UAVs in United States airspace — ranging from teeny, tiny nano-sized UAVs to a full-sized, pilotless airplane hauling cargo for UPS.

Development of these drones are popping up everywhere, including right here in Michigan. SkySpecs, a start-up coming out of the University of Michigan, is developing new ways to use UAVs — creating drones that can inspect everything from bridges to wind turbines and make sure these structures are safe.

We talked to Danny Ellis, the CEO of SkySpecs.

Listen to the full interview above.