3D Robotics

3689603710?profile=originalGood piece on the front page of the Wall Street Journal business section today. I'm quoted in it: 

The big aerospace companies "are the [computer] mainframes of this industry…We're the personal computers," said former Wired magazine editor Chris Anderson, who founded California drone maker 3D Robotics Inc. in 2009. "This is exactly what happens from industry to industry: The mammals emerge, they're small and pathetic, but they get better, faster, and then you have an evolutionary shift."

Go mammals!  We tiny mice like feasting on dinosaur eggs. (I may have slightly misremembered my evolutionary biology)

Here's the thesis paragraph: 

The two groups tend to have different sensibilities and different target customers, even meeting at different conferences. They've coexisted amicably, with the big firms serving the military and the smaller players serving hobbyists. But now their relationship has soured over efforts to influence long-delayed drone regulations and their increasing convergence in the market as demand for drones takes off.

The whole article is here and worth reading.

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  • The demolition of the bay bridge was a good example of how limited the hobby grade technology still is.  It was a spectacular sight, but that particular location is so remote, so windy, & over water, no-one was able to photograph it from an RC quad.  The best someone could have done was drive to Treasure island, fly it over the new span, fly it over the old span & point it north.  It would be 3/4 of a mile away, behind 2 structures, definitely out of line of sight.  Maybe someone could have launched from a boat.  Boats have to be fairly large to be stable enough for the IMU to calibrate.  The cost would probably defeat any benefit of an RC quad.

  • If you guys want to read the article without the paywall, just google the URL. Go to google.com and past the URL into the search field.

    The URL is http://online.wsj.com/articles/drone-dogfight-big-defense-firms-ver...

    This is a trick that works for WSJ and other paywalls. The publisher want's to rank well in google search results, so they let people who come from google to read the articles for free, at least the first 3. If you use incognito mode on Chrome, you can read all the WSJ for free, in case that's your cup of tea :)

  • hmm having built up paparazzi based UAS for military trials before, I can tell you the level of construction goes a bit beyond hobby components.. like molex picoblade connectors on teflon/kapton insulated silver(NOT silver plated copper) wiring and the components used to build such bespoke UAS were of course milspec/aerospace grade for temp and vibration from resistors caps and resonators to CPU(s).

    Lots of this milgrade stuff really a pain and expensive to source even with mouser and digikey right on the net especially for prototypes.

    At a minimum about 2-3x the cost of hobby grade components at a minimum going up from that multiple to skys the limit.

    And the military drones even the production ones have issues with MTBF same as we do.. I just suspect less often due to the extensive safety checkllists and procedures along with SDLC /SQA on the software for GCS and FC ..

    The biggest advantage the hobby drone market has is white hot evolutionary pace on H/W and S/W and for this reason  the MTBF will get better as more components get swallowed up by chip integration and better processors ie more wiring/functions that migrates to a PCB the better the reliability over a wiring harness / individual components/boards  for the same function.



  • I like the dinosaur analogy, whether it was mice or an Asteroid, the dinosaurs are dead and that's what counts.

    Wish I could see the article, but subscribing to Wall Street Journal in order to be able to do so is completely outside the bounds of my ethical and political boundaries.

    No surprise there.

  • I don't know about pathetic, that original Ardupilot works with a good GPS and an IMU.  I'd say the start was impressive even if it didn't have every trick in the book.  

  • Good article! I'll be sure to pass it on.

  • 3D Robotics

    Jack: Indeed, a new low ;-)

  • Did you really comment on your own comment?

  • Admin


    Hopefully the big commercial firms will not see enough high end profit in the sUAs hobby sector to bother with us.

    I suspect that the quick turnaround (which military and commercial firms are not noted for) in developing and producing a hobby style sUAS will also be another incentive to stay away from our sector:-)


    TCIII ArduRover2 Developer 

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