Thursday, July 17, 2014

Cycling and Drones

In a blog post a few days ago, I discussed a video of a mass cycling event in June in Moscow. I didn't think much about it at first, but the aerial shots were not done by a helicopter but by a drone (or drones).

At 1:31 there is a drone visible in the upper left of the frame

This was surprising to me since one wonders about the permissions required to fly a drone for an event in Moscow - I have yet to see any drones hovering around the National Mall here in Washington. Perhaps in Moscow such things are easier?

Of course people are still thinking up things to do with drones - thanks to Amazon, the notion of having drones as delivery vehicles is out there, even if it may turn out to be impractical. As a kind of hip joke (but to get the students to ask questions about library services) the University of Virginia claims to be developing a drone-driven Air Freight Delivery Service for library materials. (I am aware that there is no connection to bicycles directly in this, but I'm a librarian. So humor me.)

Apparently the idea of delivery by drone is more real than delivery by bicycle messenger

I suppose that in the future many bicycle races could be filmed by drones - it isn't quite as spectacular as the real time coverage by helicopters as in the Tour de France.

As I said, people are still trying to come up with ideas for drones - in January a design company suggested the "cyclodrone" that would "be configured to fly ahead of and behind a [solo] bicycle rider on roads to improve visibility and reduce the chances of being struck by a vehicle." Somehow this seems . . . very unlikely. Even more unlikely than delivering library books by drone.

However preventing accidents involving bicycles and cyclists is clearly good. I just read this news item with video about a Russian teenager who was "run over by a truck" and survived, apparently without serious injury.

Caught on camera: [Russian] Teenage cyclist gets run over by 20 tonne truck - and SURVIVES [from the land of the dashboard camera]

The article states: "In the UK, heavy vehicles are disproportionately represented in crashes resulting in deaths and serious injury of cyclists. In London they make up just 5 percent of traffic, but are involved in 50 percent of cyclist fatalities."

Perhaps we did need escort drones.

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