Venkatesh Rao, a columnist, mentioned DIY Drones in a post, saying that drones interest him.  His portrayal of DIYers however, would lead a novice UAV builder to believe he is both ignorant of, and resentful toward the people who are leading innovation on a grassroots level.

Mr. Rao is years behind in his understanding of the capabilities of the average person, and of the UAVs he speaks of.  To dismiss the DIY Drone community as a bunch of yahoo wackjobs is paramount to the mistake Cornwallis made when assesing the resolve of America's rag-tag Revolutionary War Militias.  (No offense to our British brothers and sisters.  This makes for interesting dinner conversations around my American/British family)  Mr. Rao, there is certifiable worldwide talent behind this "movement", and frankly I am surprised that such a poorly researched article would be accepted to grace a page within the Tech section of such a recognized magazine.

The thought that we as a community would reside in any one corner of the political spectrum is laughable, and a passing role in the development of an early quadrocopter does not give the right to claim newer advancements are equally lacking in capabilities.


According to our esteemed commentator the following is a list of the top ten things to do with a UAV:


The Top 10 Applications List

  1. Spy on cute girl next door. This will only work if there is enough ambient noise to drown out the quadcopter noise.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.

Maybe in the future, Mr. Rao will have more success without smearing the respectable work we are doing.  In fact, our may be the most coordial international venture in history.

Views: 2428

Comment by Grips on February 22, 2012 at 6:28am

Regardless, thanks for the publicity! I would think that anyone with a critical consciousness is able to visit DIYDRONES from the article and see the popular ideology and community solidarity that exists here.

All the same, lets see how many page hits the site got post 2012/02/20 when his article was published on the site.

Comment by Andre S on February 22, 2012 at 8:14am

Honestly, I don't understand what the fuss is about. Does one nowadays need tags for sarcasm and humour? This is one of the funnier blog posts I have read lately.

Comment by Michael Smith on February 22, 2012 at 8:49am

I tried my best to keep it respectable.  I may have come off a little condescending.  I just wish Rao had done more research..maybe a few interviews of the community.  We have so many different reasons for being a part of this, and most of them are positive.  Now, drones will be helpful in the right hands if the world ever went "postal".

Comment by Ellison Chan on February 22, 2012 at 9:24am

Andre, he's writing for Forbes magazine, not Mad Magazine.  Some sarcasm and humour is fine, but he's the "technology" writer, and there should be some useful and informative content in his article as well.  I'm surprised that the editors let it through, like that.

Comment by Jason on February 22, 2012 at 12:06pm

Rao is a toad with an agenda to be part of the crowd waving his hands "look at me! Look at me!" (it's the last kid picked syndrome)

Here's my response to his article (yes, look at me too, indeed)

"I almost missed the tongue-in-cheek, though the article comes across a bit ridiculous. To dismiss an open source community of thousands from all over the world who have come together to hash out the engineering challenges of autonomic flight as you have is laughable. Perhaps. as some have already seen, a bit of investigative journalism on your part would have found some better in-roads as to the sudden explosion of this interest in the "sNews" lately pointing more to usual cronyism of lobyists and deep pocket men on capital hill. Or perhaps, you think it is pure coincidence that a few weeks after the US Government started holding hearings on regulation of sUAV's, laws and a support network were passed to allow use of Military UAV's in American airspace. Who builds UAV's for the US Military???" 

Comment by Michael Smith on February 22, 2012 at 12:24pm

Mr Rao should post a follow-up Blog with a fresh perspective. 

Comment by Michael Smith on February 22, 2012 at 12:41pm

Search and rescue (first aid video and supplies with payload)

Small scale supply delivery (Maybe we want to deliver toilet paper to our neighbor at his shed)

Natural Disaster damage assessments

Property security

Emergency Cell phone/wifi network

Livestock/game tracking

Rural messaging/postal service

Fire fighter assistance (overhead fire views)

Maybe Mr. Rao was really commenting that placing a firearm on a UAV would then give it inclusion under the protection of the Second Amendment.  LOL


Comment by Mark Colwell on February 22, 2012 at 1:32pm

If the founders of USA had drones, how would they have handled policy? Probably same as firearms, with all the good, bad, and ugly, with personal liberty and freedom in mind.

While using them to keeping an eye on Royal Navy in Boston!

Comment by Lyn Rees on February 22, 2012 at 3:09pm

What's with all the Brit bashing comments! First Michael's reference to Cornwallis now Mark's regard The Royal Navy, even if was century's ago :)

Comment by John Arne Birkeland on February 22, 2012 at 6:44pm

Don't feed the trolls. Mr. Rao has carefully designed his article to be controversial and derby generate web hits. Lots and lots of hits. And it is working. Linking to it here also does not help..


You need to be a member of DIY Drones to add comments!

Join DIY Drones


Season Two of the Trust Time Trial (T3) Contest 
A list of all T3 contests is here. The current round, the Vertical Horizontal one, is here

© 2018   Created by Chris Anderson.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service