Chris Anderson: Commercial drone market will overshadow personal and military use



Once the Federal Aviation Administration makes its rules about how drones can be used by businesses, the growing drone market is going to see a massive expansion, according to 3D Robotics CEO Chris Anderson.

“The military market is about $18 billion, and the consumer market is now about $1 billion,” he said during an interview at the GeekWire Summit in Seattle today. “And then we’re about to see the launch of the commercial market, which I think will be bigger than both of them combined.”

Anderson is a true believer in the power of drones. He left his post as the Editor-in-Chief of Wired to work full time building the future of robotic flight at the helm of company, which makes small drones for personal use. In the future, he said that businesses will use the flying machines for scanning capabilities, including surveying crops, and taking three dimensional scans of large objects like buildings.

3D Robotics' Iris drone

All of that is driven by hardware innovation from the mobile phone industry. Anderson said that the creation of hardware components for smartphones helped create components like GPS sensors that could be re-purposed into drone parts.

“Moore’s law is moving faster in our pockets than it has moved anywhere else in any other area of technology in our history,” he said.

3D Robotics plans to take advantage of that hardware availability to create consumer items that will allow people to “take the ultimate selfie,” and provide software for flying the drones through the DIY Drones open source community.

“We give away the bits, we give away all the intellectual property,” he said. “How do we make money? We give away the bits, and we sell the atoms.”

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