(originally posted 3/11/2015)
People have been talking about UAVs for years, so why is now the time to begin funding UAV companies in earnest?
First there’s Moore’s Law and what Chris Anderson of 3DR calls the “peace dividend of the smartphone wars.” Rapid advancements in computer processing speeds, chips, and sensors driven by Moore’s Law, as well as fierce competition in the smartphone market over the past decade, have made the basic UAV building blocks cheap, light, and powerful.
Second, wide area wireless technologies, like LTE, have made it possible for drones to transmit vast amounts of data at farther ranges and faster speeds. UAVs range too far to rely on Wi-Fi, and transmit too much data to use 3G networks, but LTE solves both the range and capacity challenges.
Third, the FAA is finally getting ready to announce rules for commercial
UAVs will deliver value first by “delivering bits” — video, imagery, sensor data, etc. UAVs will then shift to “delivering atoms” — actual goods such as packages, vaccines, electronics, food supplies, and more.
One look at the incredibly fast growth of the cell phone industry in the last 10 years shows just how quickly regulatory hurdles can be addressed when government bodies and for-profit companies work together toward solutions. The dawn of commercial drones is closer than you think.
Found this article in May, 2016 – 14 months after it was written. Interesting to look back at the arguments. More and more articles right now about the end of Moore’s Law – only Intel dissents. 3DR has had their setbacks and the smartphone wars have hardly ended.
Apple stock just took a dump because of poor smartphone sales in China, and Tim Cook is out reassuring investors touting the forthcoming iPhone 7 is a “can’t live without” device, which one supposes is the successor to the killer app.
LTE testing is fully underway only it’s AT&T and Intel doing the testing with NASA.
The FAA is indeed making progress – over 5,000 333’s have been issued, most of them since the publication of this post. And the NPRM referred to in the article is taking shape as Part 107.
I very much like the ‘bits’ and ‘atoms’ concept – an elegant way of saying data and stuff. At any rate, it’s still mostly about data though there are a few delivery stories here and there – my favorite being Zipline in Rwanda which bears some resemblance to a military airlift.
Certainly after the UAV Symposium and Michael Huerta’s announcement at XPONENTIAL of a standing advisory committee, there is good reason for optimism. As you can see 14 months is a long time, ten years is an eternity.