Drones are an interesting case study in the technology maturation process. Previously only available for military and defense applications, drone use have spread through the industrial and consumer markets faster than nearly anyone, especially the FAA, was prepared for. Despite the regulatory issues that have accompanied this growth, users are finding increasingly innovative and creative applications for the technology. This week, we’ve looked around for drone applications that really caught our eye for the potential long-term implications to the respective industries. Of course, for every example we’ve found, there are hundreds more. Let us know which applications you find most interesting!

In case you need a recap, Donald Bell, with CNET highlights five industries that will be dramatically changed by drone use.

Now that you are caught up on basics, check out the way drones are poised to save lives in remote areas of Malawi.

The biggest problem with testing children in remote areas is the cost to get to the remote area and the time it takes to receive the tests back at a lab for testing. If Malawi is able to substitute drones for the courier service, they will save valuable time and be able to start treating. The Guardian reports that “Working with the government, Unicef is considering using drones to transport medical tests and blood samples from rural clinics to laboratories, avoiding the rutted roads that make even short journeys uncomfortable and unpredictable, partly because of fuel costs and a lack of motorbike drivers.”

Drones can save lives, but can they also help us improve the experience on the links?

Golf just got a whole lot more interesting in Japan! A new company has created a drone that with one click of your smart phone will bring you more golf balls or a refreshing beverage.

What will drones do next? If your answer is, “finally make some of Batman’s crazy tools work in real life,” you would not be far off.

Check out this footage from New Scientist of a drone mimic the flexible wings of a bat. Perhaps it’s simply a matter of time before we can strap on our utility belts and batwings and save the world…

On the industrial side of things, drones are being used to gather data and infrastructure-related inspections, like bridges. The benefits for this project are twofold: drones could reduce the number of humans needed for the job, and they can also make the job safer by inspecting the more dangerous sections of the bridge.

The Minnesota Department of Transportation has also tested the viability of drones for bridge inspections. It’s certainly a viable option that can translate across many industrial applications.

Finally, what kind of society would we be if we didn’t begin to prepare our drones for the inevitable future of light sabers and hand-to-hand combat? All jokes aside, teaching drones to have this kind of reaction time to obstacles mid-flight could mean a step forward in some of the concerns about the use of drones in airspaces. For now, though, let’s appreciate this drone-turned-sword-evader.

What else is out there? Let us know what you’ve seen around the world with drone applications!

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