Drone

Drones were originally used only by the military. But now, they’re used for all kinds of things, such as taking photos, surveying farm fields, and even delivering mail. Drones can even help protect the environment.

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation uses a fleet of small drones for everything from search-and-rescue missions to environmental monitoring and mapping.

McDonnell: “The sky’s the limit.”

Scott McDonnell, the agency’s aviation coordinator, says using drones is often far cheaper than using helicopters or people on the ground.

Using drones is often far cheaper than using helicopters or people on the ground. Click To Tweet

McDonnell: “It’s about one-twentieth the cost of doing on-the-ground surveys.”

For example, last year, a drone mapped a stretch of Lake Ontario shoreline to assess coastal erosion from high water and wind.

McDonnell: “We probably did that mission in about two hours, whereas it would have taken about two weeks to do it on the ground, from boats and people making measurements and that type of thing.”

The drones have also been used to analyze the spread of invasive wetland plants, and to assess the condition of beaches and dunes on Fire Island to prepare for future storms.

Drones are now providing an affordable and efficient way to monitor landscapes and ecosystems threatened by global warming.

Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy/ChavoBart Digital Media.

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