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The rise of drones (unmanned aerial vehicles) has been at the forefront of the news over the last months, with issues emerging that range from the remote use of military force to domestic privacy.

However there are many very positive applications of drones. Matternet, spawned from a Singularity University program, envisages creating a network of drones to address developing world problems. Over a billion people are geographically isolated and are often not able to access regular transport and the goods that can travel to them. Rather than building physical infrastructure, drones can cheaply and easily allow drugs, food, and other essentials to get to where they are needed. The video below shows the Matternet Vision.



Inventor Ray Kurzweil draws an apt analogy to how mobile is leapfrogging landlines in developing countries. Rather than create infrastructure with immense development and maintenance costs, far better to completely bypass old approaches with cheaper and more adaptable solutions.

There are also developed world applications. One of the most obvious, given the woes of the post offices around the world, is replacing mail delivery. A less pressing one, but one which may excite some more, is fast delivery of freshly cooked food. Unfortunately Tacocopter, which promised to deliver tacos on a drone, is not able to surmount regulatory barriers. For now, at least.

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Ross Dawson is globally recognized as a leading futurist, entrepreneur, keynote speaker, strategy advisor, and bestselling author. He is Founding Chairman of AHT Group, which consists of 3 companies: consulting, publishing, and ventures firm Advanced Human Technologies, future and strategy firm Future Exploration Network, and events company The Insight Exchange.

Ross is author most recently of Getting Results From Crowds, the prescient Living Networks, which anticipated the social network revolution, the Amazon.com bestseller Developing Knowledge-Based Client Relationships, and Implementing Enterprise 2.0. (click on the links for free chapter downloads). He is based in Sydney and San Francisco with his wife jewellery designer Victoria Buckley and two beautiful young daughters.

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