Its dromeagedan this week, the main stream press is scrambling to find opinions. This is another pretty good one from Forbes. The entire article is well worth a read.
I rarely do list posts, but occasionally, I stumble upon an interesting topic that I cannot approach any other way. The topic that has been interesting me lately is DIY drones. Political scientist Francis Fukuyama is building one. Patron of guerrillas worldwide, John Robb, is encouraging everybody to build onebefore the government bans them. Editor of Wired, Chris Anderson, actually has his own drone company. The New York Times is running op-eds about them. Momentum seems to have been building for the last couple of years. Heck, my wife is now insisting that I help her build one.
I am frankly bemused. I don’t get it. What exactly do people expect to do with their own private drones? So I’ve been speculating on applications that go beyond spying on the pretty girl next door or realtors making panoramic movies of expensive homes (the application that the NYT piece focuses on).
The Top 10 Applications List
- Spy on cute girl next door. This will only work if there is enough ambient noise to drown out the quadcopter noise.
- Paparazzi 2.0. Commercial use of drone photography is currently prohibited, but where there are celebrity pictures worth money, the paparazzi will find a way.
- Start a revolution. If drones are the new guns, and the burgeoning political movement to ensure a “right to bear drones” succeeds, you and a few hundred of your friends can secretly build a drone swarm. The USAF can shoot down one or two very easily, but if (say) a new bill in Congress annoys you enough, and you and your friends send your 100-drone swarm to rain dog-poo on the political rally of the Congressperson in question, that might be worth something.
- Attach guns to drones. There is absolutely nothing stopping drone hackers from doing this technically, and there is almost no conceivable scenario where this will ever be legal, but if you’re on the wrong side of the law already, for murder say, what’s one more charge for “attaching gun to drone”? The mayhem possible with a bunch of armed drones would make Columbine look like a kid’s tea party.
- Disaster relief. On the good side, you could imagine a future Katrina where Washington is bickering over FEMA’s incompetence, and a bunch of drone-flying amateurs are busy dropping food packets to people stranded on rooftops. The Far Right will probably drop food+gun packets onto the roofs of stores, to help owners fight back looters.
- Monster Drone Rallies and Drone Racing. Frankly, this seems like the most likely outcome to me. Drone culture becoming a harmless subculture, where amateur drones face off against each other in competition arenas, trying to kick each other out of the sky.
- Post-apocalyptic survivalism. When the whole thing comes crashing down, and you are out of toilet paper and canned food in your cabin in the woods, what do you do? Pilot your drone over to your neighbor’s cabin and assassinate him from the air of course.
- Drone Art. Formation flight is what makes cheap little drones a potent force. But much of the potential will be illegal to explore, so expect to see Drone Flash Mobs suddenly putting on a show in some public space.
- Citizen search and rescue. This is one area where serious potential exists. If somebody gets lost in the backwoods, a swarm of drones, even with just ten minute endurance levels, can probably be coordinated to do better than a police helicopter, at 1/10 of the cost.
- Home/office cranes. For your basic couch potato, a little home drone with serious lift capability will be able to pick up the TV remote from across the room and bring it to you. Or a cold beer (in coordination with a smart fridge). It will be much easier to move light objects around without moving. Within controlled environments (like the Googleplex say), you might even have drone messengers venturing farther afield to pick up stuff for you from the coffee shop. We will all get fatter, quicker.