It’s a Bird! It’s a Plane! It’s…a Drone?


Where did all these drones come from? I blinked and suddenly they’re everywhere!

When I first heard about drones back in 2010 they didn’t have the playful connotation they do now–far from it. These were drones with a capital D, sleek, well-calibrated killing machines operated by the military as Unmanned Aerial Combat Vehicles. They slipped past enemy radar, targeted terrorists, and snuffed out jihadist fervor with extreme precision and with little risk of civilian casualties. Drone’s were scary!

Soon after, I started seeing palm-sized remote controlled drones buzzing around kiosks in the mall. Then came the bigger plastic drones all cheap and clunky. After that, the sleeker, smoother high-tech models were released. Now we have them in every shape and size with prices ranging from $15 to $15,000!

Scientists are baring down on this tech like it’s the cure for cancer. Hydrogen fuel cells are being applied so drones can fly for hours. Competing businesses like Amazon, Google, and Microsoft are wrapping their knuckles for a decade-long bout over the hearts and wallets of the American consumer. They are investing hundreds of millions and opening up whole new divisions of their companies based on drone technology. And they’re doing it with complete confidence that we’ll buy what they’re selling.

Law enforcement agencies have had to prepare for the eventuality that there will be a drone in every garage in America. They’ve had to preemptively evolve their ability to protect and serve by designing a taser-net technology to incapacitate drones being used for illegal purposes. Drones have implications for cyber crime too. They have the ability to fly into an area while carrying malware and infect specific computers through their wifi.

Beyond law enforcement, the legal system as a whole is preparing for the tidal wave of unprecedented cases. Organized crime rings have already been busted for using drones to smuggle merchandise over the border. In fact, the industry is evolving so rapidly that owners will soon be required to register their drones.

In sports, drones equipped with cameras are now used to film athletes. So far, it’s mostly popular with snowboarders and skateboarders but is expected to spread to many distance related activities. Another exciting innovation is drone racing, which is now a legitimate sport in Australia and will soon catch on in other countries.

It’s more than likely that my childhood dream of owning a flying car (no doubt inspired by the Jetsons cartoon) will become a reality through drone technology. A developer in China has already created one capable of transporting a person.

All told, commercial drones are projected to have an 80-billion-dollar impact on the U.S. economy between 2015 and 2025. They are a testament to how rapidly and smoothly something evolves when the private sector leads societal change rather than the government pumping money into research and incentive programs trying to induce national interest.

I can’t remember anything taking off with such widespread enthusiasm from every corner of our national infrastructure since home computers and cell phones exploded onto the scene.

Drones are the future, and what a bright future it is shaping up to be!


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