For over a decade, drones have hunted men abroad. Overseas, Predators and Reapers have flown over war zones, their powerful cameras below looking for threats. Back home, the Air National Guard deployed a Reaper for a far more humanitarian manhunt: a search to find a lost teacher.
Whales are awesome and important. But because they are so big and sensitive to sound, researchers have a hard time collecting all the data they need without freaking them out. Now, whale biologists from the nonprofit Ocean Alliance have teamed up with students from the Olin College of Engineering to create drones that can capture one of the most important biological materials--a whale's snot--without disturbing the animals. They've launched a Kickstarter campaign to help fund their research.
In 20 years time we will look back on the gimmick drone video as a strange artifact of the 2010s. Sometimes a marketing concept, sometimes just a joke, the gimmick drones all share in common a simple unmanned flying machine and the idea that that is enough for a technological revolution. The Whopper Dropper from 2014, recently rediscovered by The Independent, is one such artifact: A multi-copter with a claw that drops burgers to the homeless.