Drone hater or exhaust spewer?


Venkatesh Rao, a Forbes.com 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.



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  • This is the last comment I intend to post on this matter, I do not wish to be associated with this sort of childish, ill informed bulls&*t.

    Anyway, there are quads that will hover for an hour and a half....

    @Brian. You may think its a topic worth discussing however the rules for DIY drones specifically state that these matters are not up for discussion, especially not in the public forums, open to anyone, those that may appreciate the tongue-in-cheek nature of this type of comment, and of course those who would not.

    If this is your intention please keep it to yourself and whoever else is involved with it. I for one do not want the reputation of 22,000 great individuals spoilt by the idle chitter chatter of a few hoons with 'wacky' ideas.

  • In all fairness 10 minute endurance is weak, much greater endurance can be had for a fairly low investment, and the depiction of 1/10th the cost of human transport is probably a very generous figure in favor of human transport.  The fuel, maintenance and the cost of crew..... sounds spendy to me.  Curious also about comments on concealing weapons, no, it would not need to be obvious, and is probably a topic worth discussing.

  • I am particularly interested in number nine.

    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.

    I want to know when a police helicopter would be used to find a common missing person? Seems like a drastic waste in fuel, AND with 10 minute endurance levels, You better be really close or have alot of time to go find all of them drones!

     Plus that dosnt even sound anywere near what they would actually do for a missing person.

    Also if a man is a murderer do you really think he is going to spend the time to build a big bulky coptor to mount a gun on? Its not like someone wont notice a gun flying around.

  • @Dave, have it, took it, enjoyed it, don't really disagree.

  • And Jason, very good comment, well done ;) but the winner is...


    "What’s going on here is that someone has to churn out a 1000-word article and ignorance is clearly not a barrier to them.

    Being a blogger, naturally you’re not expected to solicit the opinions or perspectives of any one of the thousands of people that have worked together to invent new hardware and software.

    Your research background is also obvious in the ten minutes you spent on Google searches and the five-and-a-half seconds you spent on a couple of message boards.

    I’m frightfully interested in the more meaningful inventions you pursued during your (no doubt) stellar career.

    Of course it’s also possible that the topic you’re commenting on may be too profane for someone that that covers the hugely esteemed world of “marketing, technology strategy and organizational problems”.

    No doubt there are dozens of middle managers in bars tonight crying into their bourbon and blessing you for showing them how to hook the camera in the ladies’ loo to the digital sender"

    Have that :)

  • @Greg. That's one hell of a point you are making :)

    Corrections to your 'proper' English in bolditalicunder-lined.   

    "You may want (to) see english properly, but I am sorry. here many have seen english for a second forine language.

    I speak perfect English as it is my native language, and now one is stopping the "victim" from responding here. I'll bet you have never made a typographical error that your spelling correctness system failed to pick up because is was a different word out of context with the flow of the intended sentence(.)"

    Now stop getting so personal you lot ;)

  • Mr. Rao.  I have typed his name entirly too much

  • @ Brian, Arduraptor will be a piece of work huh?  In the blog, I acted as Mr Roa's counterbalance.

  • @Michael, on the other hand, I really want to see ArdoRaptor, need any help look me up! :)

  • @Michael "He also has the ability to reach more readers than I do; therefore I do not give any credibility to claims of unfairness toward Mr. Rao"

    So you would give credibility to Mr Rao if he spoke only to a small community such as "ours"?  I say the comments were unfair, because they were not balanced, his or yours.

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