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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  • @Bogdan,

    Great tip for reading the whole article.

  • @Aaron -- Right now, the FAA is being distracted by the growing air safety risks from hobby aircraft. They are being forced to react and are in the process of making #3 happen, imo. Crazy hobby pilots are providing the hard evidence they'll need in congressional testimony. 

    Yes, the FAA is working too slowly on commercialization. But they will get there without a doubt. And they'll do it with the right regulations to ensure air safety. 

  • @Phillip, that would be nice. FAA doesn't seem very interested in making 2 or 3 work anytime soon, sadly. Instead they are encouraging a large black market for drone services. I've heard nothing out of them about licensing, requiring traceable ID on drones or transponders or any of that stuff that really needs to be sorted out so that we can have a safe UAV industry. They just keep punting.

  • The present and the future in a nutshell: 

    1) Military drones - Already a huge, profitable business

    2) Commercial drones - Soon to be a huge and profitable business. For licensed professionals only.

    3) Hobby drones - Much of the enabling technology soon to be regulated by the federal government -- with licensing required to purchase. The growing threat of 'crazy' hobbyist flying missions that endanger passenger aircraft and the public will require a government response. I hope I'm wrong about this. But the growing safety risks say otherwise. 

  • @Ott: *crickets* (quietly added to 'ignore in future' list)

    Civilized people:
    Good article. I do agree that we are, at least from the viewpoint of the 'little guys,' looking at FAA and company trying to limit competition in the 'big toys' world. And the 'cowboys' that do dumb things (the baseball stadium flight, etc) aren't helping us any. Unfortunately, the "amateur rpv/auv vehicle completes planned mission without incident" type news does not attract national news attention.

    MIL-Spec does not mean "high quality" or even quality. I've seen a lot of m-spec parts that have a higher mtbf then equivelant no-spec parts, simply because the no-spec parts "evolved" from the "here's what was done wrong in the mil-spec" problems. But then, mil-spec has the "we are going to try to break it - it is our job" testing community as a major benefit, so there are a lot of 'gonzo' tough systems out there. Like the A-10 and the OE-82.
  • "Lockheed Martin is already leasing to farmers its Indago quadcopter, which can be folded into a briefcase."

    How's that working with the FAA? Have they received a Type Cert for it, or are they supporting "illegal" operations?

  • What the hell? 3DR is notable for not falling into the trap of meabingless frontend software. Pixhawk much?
  • Well that sure was a rant and a half! 3DR is suing who?

  • Google the URL and then use the drop down to select cache. Then you get the article for free!!

  • I know it is just media - but I often read the 400' limit - that is of course an hobby limit, not a limit of the device :-) Also comparing a quad copter against planes for endurance - hmm :-)

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