Sacrificial Drones

4 November 2020 | Propeller Heads Newsletter


Image Courtesy: Business Insider
For millennia, humans have worshipped and made sacrifices to volcanoes. The Romans worshipped Vulcan, the god of fire, volcanoes, and the forge. For the Greeks it was Hephaestus, basically the same guy. The native Hawaiians worshipped Pele, who they believed created the very islands they lived and died on, but in this day and age, we know that they are just a part of how our Earth works. But maybe we should be making sacrifices to them. With how 2020 is going, it can’t hurt, right? 

Maybe that’s where we’ve been going wrong. Maybe the volcano gods are angry they haven’t had any sacrifices. 

This article isn’t about actually sacrificing drones into volcanoes, even though some will probably fall in from the heat or get hit by a rogue piece of lava rock. It’s instead about a group of nerds, also known as researchers, who are trying to predict when these hot headed mountains will blow. They’re using drones not only to observe volcanoes for their beauty, but to measure the amounts of carbon dioxide they’re emitting. This can aid in the predicting of when volcanoes erupt, as well as when someone passes gas near the home point. Another technique they use to predict eruptions is bubbling on the sides of the Earth, which could be a great job for a drone with LiDAR.

Thinking of the future over here at Skyfire!


Image Courtesy: CNN
I think we can all agree that deforestation is a bad byproduct of our civilization getting larger. Yes, we all need our paper products unless we want to wipe our bums with pine-cones, or other hard rough things that people list as alternatives to toilet paper, but this quickly becomes a discussion of greed. There’s plenty of land in the world to grow trees sustainably, but that doesn’t stop the clearing of forests purely for the purpose of making money. 

The WWF and other organizations have decided to help indigenous people fight back against the destruction of their homes, crops, hunting and fishing grounds. Training the locals to use drones and their existing knowledge of the landscape is helping catch illegal logging or burning all over the South American rainforests. 

Not far off from the overwatch we do here at Skyfire, these locals are using these amazing tools to protect what means the most to them, and they’re doing it successfully! Just goes to show you that even someone from a tribe that only made contact with the outside world 40 years ago can effectively use a drone.


Image Courtesy: Aerial Robotics
That’s enough hippy dippy nature loving for one edition of Propeller Heads. It’s time for drones to do a little damage. And we mean a LITTLE amount of damage.

A big problem of protecting these woosy trees is there are too many of them! They’re hard to walk through, and they’re so overgrown you can’t comfortably stroll through them to set up a way to monitor how they’re doing. What jerks. So instead of someone having to walk through and chop the arms off of these lame-o’s, some other nerds (not the ones at the volcanoes) decided to just throw darts at the trees. But the human arm can only throw so far, and these are nerds after all, so they built drones with spring loaded darts to carry out their biophobic missions. 

These darts have chips, not potatoes, that can link to each other and create a network to monitor things like temperature, sound, pollution levels, humidity, wind, and more. Other methods, like dropping sensors from the air, don’t work as well, because the trees have lots of hair (we think that’s the scientific term) that keeps stuff from falling gracefully to the ground. So we, as people, decided to punish these trees for their long hair, free spirits, and their vegan diets.




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Alright, folks — that’s it! Hope you have a great week!

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