I recently contributed to a Kickstarter campaign for a small quadcopter style drone. I’m set to receive it sometime this fall and I can’t wait! At this point, most of these drones only carry a camera, but as the payload capability increases, our lives could change in a lot of small but powerful ways.
- You go for a long run or walk, but you go too far and won’t be able to turn around and make it back in time. You pull out your phone and direct your drone to fly your bike to you.
- You’ve got a small sedan but want to go paddleboarding, so you drive to the beach and meet your paddleboard there, dropped by your drone.
- You arrive at the airport, park, and begin walking towards the terminal with just enough time to make it through security and board. You forgot your bag. No time to drive home and get it. You call your spouse and ask them to send it to you ASAP on the drone.
- Driving up for a weekend in a lake house in Canada, you realize at the border you forgot your passport. You call a friend, ask for a favor, then find a Tim Horton’s, grab a cup of coffee, and track your drone on your phone as it brings you the document.
These are fun, rather mundane scenarios to imagine. How many other search and rescue situations, or commercial transportation settings could drones change?
It seems the biggest impediment is likely to be old dinosaur-like regulatory bodies, but I suspect technological progress will eventually outpace them and make them irrelevant. There are more efficient ways to ensure safe flight paths and coordination of airspace than a bureaucratic monopoly. Pull out your flight-path app and schedule a safe, free time and place, or if you’re really in a hurry, pay property owners a fee for the ability to fly it directly over theirs. The point is, our lack of imagination about how such conflicts might be solved ought not to lead us to lean on stodgy, coercive, ham-fisted government solutions.