Drones are taking over the world! (In a good way.)

Categories: School of Science, Engineering and Environment

Professor Andy Miah, Chair in Science Communication & Future Media at The University of Salford has been asking the big questions about drones; how they can and have been used to help fight coronavirus, how they are used by artists and if they will one day replace humanity itself. 

In just a decade, drones have gone from a niche toy, to a mainstream tool for many sectors. From delivering human organs as part of urgent medical procedures to extravagant drone racing events, they are becoming the must-have technology for innovators around the world.

After seeing how a dance company had been using drones in its routines, Professor Miah was inspired to design a talk based around this idea. He said: “Thinking like an artist is so crucial to innovation that, if we don’t do it, we lose so much of what the world may look like.

“The first step to making changes is to think like an artist and this is why my talk is called ‘Dancing with Drones’. There is no better metaphor for talking about the dialogue we have with tech culture, than the possibility that one day, we might dance with drones.

“The idea that drones can become something more than just tools is really mind blowing, but that’s exactly what’s happening with technology today. Someday, robots may take care of us, we may have relationships with operating systems, and machines may even claim moral and legal status. These are among the biggest issues we face in our future and drones give us a glimpse into that world.”

Professor Miah’s talk was premiered at the Cheltenham Science Festival at Home and explores the possibility of drones replacing the role of humans. Professor Miah added: "This enquiry is mostly an investigation of value. We must ask what we value about ourselves, and it gets us to think about our role in the grand scheme of things.

“These questions raise philosophical discussions which have been around for centuries and are among the most prevailing questions that define the journey of our species.”

For the first time ever the annual Cheltenham Science Festival, went viral with a series of sessions hosted live from experts across the UK. Collectively there was over 60 hours of streamed content on the festival’s YouTube.

Professor Miah said: “I am really proud that The University of Salford could be part of this year’s Cheltenham Science Festival. As a long-standing friend and collaborator, Cheltenham resonates with the university’s commitment to sharing research as widely as possible and this is especially important in the Covid-19 world, where lockdown has made it impossible to meet people face to face.”

If you would like to watch more of the Cheltenham Science Festival workshops, you can watch the entire stream on YouTube. To learn more about drones, you can read Professor Miah's book 'Drones: The Brilliant, the Bad, and the Beautiful’ which can be purchased online

For all press office enquiries please email communications@salford.ac.uk