RocketSpace/AT&T report on the future of drones

Lots of good analysis and interviews with drone industry companies (including us) in this new 52-page report from RocketSpace and AT&T Foundry. Read it all here.  

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Comment by Jason Franciosa on October 7, 2016 at 11:55am

It will be interesting to see when and which of these come to fruition.

One of them will be quite soon as my company intelliSky is about to release our solution for this problem in the next 6 months or so.

Comment by Dmitry Prokhorov on October 8, 2016 at 2:19am

It seems they missed projection #11:
"11) Immature and prohibitive regulation laws will diminish evolution of drone industry for decades."

IMHO it is most important one.


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Comment by Gary Mortimer on October 8, 2016 at 10:17am

Er are most of these things not already in place?? 1-8 happen daily so not much of a prediction! 

Comment by Geoffrey L. Barrows on October 9, 2016 at 9:56am
Nice article! I pretty much agree with all of them, but some will occur sooner than others. I would like to add a few more predictions, based on observing the "micro" UAV industry since I first got involved in 1996:

11) Drones will fly close to the ground, with the same safety as birds and insects. Near-ground operations is the next frontier for autonomy, and people are realizing that all the motion capture system work has contributed nothing to this (though very few will admit it), but the technology is advancing and will get there. Two factors will cause this. One will be advances in autonomy technology, allowing obstacles to be detected and wind currents to be mitigated. (Shameless plug- I would like to think my work is helping to make this happen- videos are coming...) The other will be changes in the platform itself that minimized any danger resulting from collisions. I am thinking of the use of lighter and more compliant materials as well as the use of structures like guards and cages.

12) The median drone size will be less than 10cm. I think the size of drones we have seen here, say Solo sized or DJI phantom sized, will continue to proliferate. There will continue to be millions of them. But if you look at other industries (e.g. computers) and natural life (e.g. flying creatures) what you see is that the smaller you get, the more of them you see. There are more crows than eagles, more swallows than crows, and more insects than swallows. And tiny drones have all sort of advantages over larger drones that would make them the preferred platform, once the basic issues of autonomy are worked out. There will be billions.

13) My snarky prediction, saved for unlucky 13: The next major breakthrough in battery technology will continue to be 2 years away. In the 90's we were promised miracle breakthroughs in battery technology. Same thing in the 2000s and in the past few years. I suspect in 2020 we will still hear that a breakthrough is coming in 2023. Battery technology will incrementally improve, but not much better than incrementally, and certainly not in an exponential manner like Moore's Law.
Comment by HeliStorm on October 10, 2016 at 8:10pm
Combine two through five, and, as I imagine, we will have small bird, and even insect sized aircraft capable of powering themselves through bio sources, working together to provide the capabilities of a larger system in a smaller collaborative swarm. Synthetic aperture imaging could be used to create large resolution images from dozens of lower resolution cameras. Small thermal imagers could be used in similar manner. Some individuals could be designed to respond to certain stimuli, and others to differing stimuli. The collaboration of the swarm providing a sum total greater than its parts. I really see this as the future, for certain applications.
Comment by Mamoon Syed on October 13, 2016 at 6:01pm

Prediction number 3 doesn't appear to be very bold at all.

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