A year ago I thought drones were stupid and overhyped. They crashed, they were expensive, and there wasn’t much use for them.
This year I got to spend time flying drones with Chris Anderson at 3DR’s HQ in Berkeley. They’re located in the middle of an industrial park reminiscent of the original Terminator set — it’s awesome.
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After seeing his latest product I’m 100% convinced that drones are nearly ready for prime time.
Using a drone in 2015 is like using a VHS recorder in 1985: you look like a huge attention-seeking dork, but everyone wants to talk to you about the technology. My Great Uncle Joe DeFalco used to be the family “VHS recording dork” at the drunken McCabe/Kennedy holiday parties in Brooklyn and Jersey, walking up to everyone yelling “Identify yourself!”
It was like being interrogated by the Stasi, but despite how annoying he was, those tapes are invaluable today.
30 years later we all have an HD camera in our pockets and are creating walls of video recordings at amusement parks. In fact, you could fit about 50 mobile phones in amount of space that an old VHS tape took up.
There are three reasons I think drones are no longer toys:
- They are dead simple to fly
- They don’t require massive maintenance & assembly
- The “prosumer grade” ones are now $1,000
- Commercial applications are everywhere
- Regulation is reaching reasonable
In fact, it’s getting hard to crash a drone. If you hit the down control it slows down no matter how fast you try to crash it. If you try to fly the new ones into the White House they stop at the gate, which has been geofenced as a no-fly zone.
A year or two from now, when you try to run one into a tree or wall, it will sense it and stop six inches away. Drones will also be able sense each other, avoiding any chance of a mid-air collision.
Right now when you look up in the sky you see nothing except the occasional jet. Once an a while we see a helicopter. In another 20 years you will look up and be able to count a couple of dozen drones at any given point in time.
When we die, we will be talking about the time when the skies were open and clear. The time when you didn’t hear the buzzing of drones doing their work. Just like our (great) grandparents remember the time when we didn’t have highways or a driveway with a car in our front yards.
Any time I’m obsessed with something to this degree I basically start a media product around it. So, if you want to see this trend emerge every day I’ve created a very simple solution:
InsideDrones.com: the top 25 stories about drones today — ranked by you.
It’s like the LAUNCH Ticker, except it’s about just drones (and it’s free, not $100 like the Ticker).
I’m thinking of doing an Inside Drones event this fall. Just need an underwriting sponsor (hint hint).
Do let me know what you think.
Those Links One more Time: