Robot Drones in the Sky

Students create a drone to be used in security systems
Photo by Simon Fraser University via Flickr

How will drones change our lives in the future? Anne Muir and Colin Lowther look at how people use drone machines today, and how they will change life for people around the world.


Voice 1 

Welcome to Spotlight. I’m Anne Muir.

Voice 2 

And I’m Colin Lowther. Spotlight uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand, no matter where in the world they live.

Voice 1 

Imagine that you travel from this time, into the future. You arrive in a major international city. There are lots of tall, glass buildings. Many people are walking by. But you also see, and hear, something else. Above your head, you notice flying machines. Some are very small. Others are larger. You see many of them flying around. Other people do not seem to notice them. They seem to be just a part of life.

Voice 2 

These flying machines are drones. Drones are basically flying robots. A computer controls this flying robotic machine. The drone can carry out many complex series of actions. Drones can do things without people even touching them. They can carry things, drop things, and go places on their own. They can hold a camera, and take pictures. Experts say that drones and other robots will change human life in amazing ways. Some people say they will change human life as much as the invention of the car, or even the computer! Today’s Spotlight is on our future with drones.

Voice 1 

People around the world are already using drones today. Most of the working drones today are used for military purposes. Many countries use military drones. Military drones can watch other territories with cameras. But most of them carry weapons to kill. Many people are debating the moral issues of using drones in war. This is a very important, and difficult debate. But drones are also used for many other things. In today’s program, we will talk about the many other ways that people use drones. How will drones change our lives in the future?

Voice 2 

Today, many people use drones with cameras. These drones help humans go places and see things that can be difficult or impossible for humans. For example, filmmakers use drones with cameras. They can record difficult or extreme parts of films. Drones can also help with search and rescue missions. If people are lost, far from home, drones can help find them. Both governments and individual people are using drones. Here are a few examples.

Voice 1 

In 2012, authorities in Bolivia used drones to fight drug crime. They discovered more than 240 places where people were making illegal drugs. Mexico, Panama, and Trinidad and Tobago have also used drones to discover illegal drug trade.

Voice 2 

Brazil uses drones to watch the Amazon rainforest. There are many laws about activity in this special forest. The government wants to protect the rainforest from illegal business - like cutting down trees in protected areas.

Voice 1 

Farmers in Brazil are also using drones. Brazil has many huge farms. On these huge farms, it can be difficult to see where some crops are failing. Drones help farmers to see crop disease. Drones can also help farmers use less chemicals to control insects. This can help the environment and save money. People think that drones will be very useful for farming in the future.

Voice 2 

Environmentalists in Nepal are also planning to use drones. They want to use drones to stop illegal hunting of rare animals. They will use the drones to watch tigers and rhinos.

Voice 1 

Drones are also finding illegal fishing off the coasts of Libya, Japan, and the Galapagos Islands.

Voice 2 

However, drones can do much more than carry cameras and take pictures. For example, drones can carry medicines and supplies to people in distant places. Futurist Thomas Frey speaks, thinks, and writes about the future. On his blog, he describes the different things drones can do:

Voice 3 

“Drones can be low flying, high flying, very small or huge, quiet or loud. We can add lights, sound, cameras, robotic arms, and special technology. Drones can also roll along the ground, stick to the side of a building, float in a river, dive under water, jump on a building, climb a tree, or attach to the sides of trains, ships, and airplanes. Combining all these abilities into one single device will open up a world of possibilities.”

Voice 1 

But as drones become more common, we need laws to guide their use. Drones are used in at least 14 countries in Latin America. But in this area, Brazil is the only country that has laws to govern drone use. Other countries are just using them with no legal regulation. In the United States, Amazon is a very large company. It sells many different products to people, using the internet. Amazon wants to bring products to people using drones. But this business use is not legal in the United States. Researcher Daniel Burrus told Live Science,

Voice 4 

“Drones have moved forward so quickly that the law has not caught up with the technology. Until we get new laws, it is a bit of a wild situation.”

Voice 2 

Many people have serious concerns about the use of drones. One of the biggest concerns is surveillance. It is easy for the government, police, or even strangers to watch anyone. For example, the police in Mexico City have used drones to watch peaceful protests. Citizens were following the law. But the police used drones to record anyone who attended. Santiago Canton is a human rights lawyer in Argentina. Canton was concerned that police use of drones could hurt democracy. He said,

Voice 5 

“We see the fearful effect that this can have on countries. When people want to demonstrate publicly, drones can cause un-ease and fear. It could stop them from doing this.”

Voice 1 

Other concerns are environmental. What will power the drones? What kind of materials will they be made of? How will this affect our health, and the health of the planet?

Voice 2 

There is also another kind of pollution: noise pollution. Machines make a lot of noise. This noise pollution has become part of day to day life for many people. If drones become very common, they will add to the noise in our communities.

Voice 1 

Using drones affects many parts of our lives. People will most likely spend more and more money on drone technology. Experts say that in the next ten years, drones will cost the world 89 billion dollars. This high number tells us that drones are going to be a big part of life on earth. John Villasenor is an engineering professor who also works in Washington DC. We end our program with his words. He told Live Science,

Voice 6 

“Robotics - including drones - is going to be one of the most important and influential technologies of the 21st century.”

Voice 2 

The writer of this program was Jen Hawkins. The producer was Luke Haley. The voices you heard were from the United Kingdom and the United States. All quotes were adapted for this program and voiced by Spotlight. You can listen to this program again, and read it, on the internet at This program is called, ‘Robot Drones in the Sky’.

Voice 1 

We hope you can join us again for the next Spotlight program. Goodbye.


Do you think drones will affect your life in the future? How?


Avatar Spotlight
Mattia Pascal
said on October 19, 2015

I think drones will change the world in many ways, . People has imagination to do different things with it, and this cause certain fear in some peoples because technology can be used for bad things too.

Avatar Spotlight
said on January 08, 2016

i agree with the last comment, because the technology can be used in many ways, i mean good and bad ways, however, the person who used that is the responsible about the used, i mean, for example, a knife was made to cook and give to eat but some people are used to kill. i think is the same with the technology in general.

Kaleb Kolaibi's avatar
Kaleb Kolaibi
said on November 18, 2016

The drones plane was big role - and it will continue - to fight against Islamic terrorism, al-Qaida and sisters. as in my country, Yemen, for example.
Yes, I think drones will affect our life in the future through the expansion of the current role and enter new areas such as media.
God bless you

Avatar Spotlight
said on November 19, 2016

Widespread utilization of robot drones means this modern device can influence the life of human population in many different ways. From my viewpoint, drones primarily should be used to protect people keeping them in safety, quiet not on the contrary to frighten, disturb them.
In the scientific sphere, drones can contribute notably to monitoring natural environment around the world including the negative global changes and the illegal activities as poaching or inadmissible cutting the amazing rainforests as well!
Thanks for excellent topic!

Severino Ramos da Silva's avatar
Severino Ramos da Silva
said on November 30, 2016

From: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) (Severino Ramos)
To: spotlight programes
Subject: answer to the questions above
Date: Wednesday 30, November 2016
São Paulo SP Brazil

Dear Anne Muir, Jen Hawkins, Colin Lowther, And Luke Haley:

At first, I want to thank you for bring us readers and learners of English more one great article, thanks!

No, I do not think so. The drones technology will help us and to protect us against several bad things.

The best regards,
Severino Ramos