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I am 2nd year PhD student in Physics.

Can you think of any UAV project which won't contribute to army? UAV designing is a career of my dream, but I want to serve the greater good. However, all advances are developing in military field.

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closed as too broad by SSumner, fooot, Steve V., Jay Carr, Federico Feb 5 '15 at 7:36

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  • $\begingroup$ Your question is similar to this question, and may be closed as well for being too broad. There are infinitely many civilian applications; otherwise no one would care that the FAA currently bans most commercial uses in the US. $\endgroup$ – fooot Feb 4 '15 at 23:04
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    $\begingroup$ If you want to keep it implementation agnostic, how about some research into service-based design over an unreliable communication medium. I did my undergraduate dissertation on roughly that topic and it was both interesting and entirely independent of the specifics of military use (although it would still be applicable in that context) $\endgroup$ – Jon Story Feb 5 '15 at 0:17
  • $\begingroup$ @JonStory, could you please mention some references on that topic? Thanks. $\endgroup$ – physavage Feb 5 '15 at 1:10
  • $\begingroup$ Not off the top of my head, sorry - it was a few years ago now and I don't have it to hand. There's plenty of information out there though if you're interested in it, I didn't find the research stages at all problematic $\endgroup$ – Jon Story Feb 5 '15 at 9:14
  • $\begingroup$ the assumption of this question is quite naive, in my view: any UAV project which won't contribute to army: none. Every little advancement in science and technology can potentially be used by the military, even if your project is not related to them. $\endgroup$ – Federico Feb 5 '15 at 11:39
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Here are a few non-military ways in which drones have been used:

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  • $\begingroup$ Any idea's why drones aren't used for traffic monitoring nowadays? $\endgroup$ – traducerad Mar 9 '17 at 21:34
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One would be the Aurora Flight Sciences Perseus, which started as an unmanned instrument carrier for flights into the south polar vortex, in order to study ozone depletion.

But guess what: Development took much longer than initially expected, and funding gaps could only be filled with DARPA money. In the end, military contracts keep many high-tech companies alive which could not support themselves exclusively with civilian money.

If your field of interest has military applications, it will be very hard to stay true to your ethical standards.

I would dispute your claim, however, that all advances take only place in the military field. Apart from GPS, many advances which make UAVs practical are connected to civilian-driven technological progress. Only when it comes to issues like reserving airspace for UAV operations, the military is in a much easier position than civilian operators which must wait for slow-moving government bureaucracies to adapt to progress. The discussions we had with the FAA in 1990 on how to operate UAVs were surreal.

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    $\begingroup$ These days a lot of work developing low cost UAV technologies used by Hollywood and other civilian applications actually happen in the hobbyist world of RC enthusiasts. Most of them open source or take code/inspiration from open source projects. Even so, it would be naive to think people wouldn't adapt it for military applications. Especially in developing countries. $\endgroup$ – slebetman Feb 5 '15 at 3:44
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Amazon wants to deliver packages with UAVs. So does Google.

Even military contractors like Boeing and Northrup Grumman see applications in agriculture.

Of course, there's also a growing field in selling them for retail.

While other countries have better regulatory processes right now, the FAA is preventing much progress in the US.

If you come up with your own idea, then why not start your own business? There are lots of possibilities.

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