Rhianna Lakin is a pilot working to improve the world with drone technology. She first became inspired to use drones for good causes when she was living in Indonesia in 2003. Illegal logging at the time resulted in a flash flood that killed hundreds of people.
“It was the most horrific scene that I’ve ever seen in my life,” Lakin said. She realized the power of drone technology as a watchdog for powerful corporations: “It was that moment for me where I was awoken, where I was like, we can expose them.”
Beyond surveillance, Lakin realized that the technology has many applications, from blood delivery in rural areas to monitoring endangered species populations.
During the 2016 Dakota Access Pipeline (#NoDAPL) protests, Lakin trained and supported indigenous drone pilots, who were then able to document the progress of the pipeline and the interactions between law enforcement and indigenous water protectors. Lakin said that the drones helped to hold people accountable for their actions, and made the protestors more comfortable and empowered.