3D Robotics

Where drones sit on the "hype curve"

3689474279?profile=originalEvery year, the Gartner IT consultancy releases its famous "hype curve", which shows where it thinks various emerging technologies are in the usual cycle of swings between overheated expectations, backlashes and ultimate practical application. They think that drones have a lot more hype ahead before the inevitable expectation backlash begins...

(via Ponoko)

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  • Electric aviation and its many permutations will "take off" due to the same factors driving the mobile computing rampage.  China, India, Brazil and other countries are now seen as the market growth potential for most things in technology, mainly because their economies are booming and their respective societal infrastructures are not keeping up.  This is driving the demand for computing where the power grid is unreliable, and the ability to virtually "go" where the sparse roads won't take you.

    In this context, it won't matter one bit what the FAA decides to do.  The trend there, of course, is to regulate the business (and jobs) out of America in the interest of safety and litigation risk-avoidance. 

    It is generally agreed that the electric aviation market is in its infancy.  The companies which will dominate this explosive sector 10 years from now are probably not even formed yet.  For a sense of where this is all headed from a market and regulatory environment standpoint, one need look no further than the World Bank's ranking of countries for their business "friendliness".  In the new globalized world order, where is the best place to start a "disruptive" technology - or any - business?  Hint: the USA is 13th in the world.


    Witness the fact that the largest international general aviation gathering outside of the EAA event in Oshkosh is in Brazil:


    We live in interesting times, my friends.

  • Hi John,


    it seems we are looking at things from a different perspective.....3D printing for use as rapid prototyping has been around as an industry since the early 90's, that was what I was referring to. You are quite right that it has not replaced traditional techniques for manufacturing yet....if the "hype curve" was referring to additive manufacturing it's probably correct, but manufacturing a part or parts with the correct mechanical properties is a world away from making prototypes...


    Its interesting to hear that Monroe is looking at additive metal parts, I looked at making some titanium stuff for an aerospace company a couple of years ago...the chief metalurgist was'nt happy with the microstructure of the titanium and reckoned it would self propogate cracks and could not be guranteed to last the required stress cycles needed for flight....That is not to say things havent improved recently, just saying that replacing a traditional technology and process with a new one has lots of hurdles to go over before it can be used in something as critical as an aerospace part for flight.


    design, print, build the future of aviation






  • As an early adopter and gross mis-spender on sUAS technology, I am already firmly in the Trough of Disillusionment. When monitoring the forums, I can immediately sniff out a new, overhyped product that is poorly-tested, under-supported and very definitely not able to fulfil the wild marketing claims made about it.

    One example is the FY91Q muitirotor autopilot. Very few users have been able to get any useful service out of it, yet the manufacturer has just released a new product - the FY901. To ignore their existing user base, provide no updated firmware or fixes, but rather utilise resources to bring out a new product is dishonest and scandalous. In most industries, manufacturers that did this kind of thing would not last long, but thanks to the 'hype factor' in the drone industry, it is possible to get away with it.

  • I've been in the drone space since 1996, when I was at NRL and DARPA just kicked off a program to build a "micro air vehicle". Since then, at least in military applications, the field has grown, grown, and grown, with rapid advances during the post 9/11 wars. I never saw "hype" at all. Actually I saw the opposite- drones were put into use at a much *slower* rate than what technology would allow due mostly to political infighting in the military and a bias against anything "Unmanned". Many Air Force generals are former fighter pilots, and in ways they saw an existential threat by these mere soulless machines coming in to take their job. I hate to sound cynical, but in some ways it was the retirement of the old guard that actually allowed progress to occur.

    There are similar forces with civilian drones, specifically the FAA's CofA procedures, that have slowed integration of drones in the space. So really there hasn't been the chance for drones to really "shine" and proliferate in the commercial/consumer spaces yet, unless you count toy RC helicopters (not really drones), and so an expectation bubble hasn't had a chance to form yet.

    Where are we on the curve? To the left of quantum computing, tacocopter notwithstanding.

  • 3D printing is great for making things that you can't buy and you would have to make them otherwise with random parts available in shops. The quality of home made printers is not great yet but it's been like a few years so far when they are affordable to have at home. I assume most of DIY enthusiasts would like to have one on their desk (just next to CNC mill/lathe).

  • Developer

    Olivier: I disagree about 3D printers. They very much deserve to be at the top of the "hype curve" in my opinion. If you look at mass media it is littered with articles where 3D printing is used as an obvious plug to get media attention. And in most such cases, more traditional manufacturing (cnc, plast molding etc) would have been just as cheap, and structurally much stronger. In my opinion, one of the few places 3D printing makes sense at the moment, is having a printer in house for very rapid prototyping to check mechanical design parts fit and such.

  • Developer

    It definitely is climbing the hype curve..I would have thought we were closer to the peak than that actually.

    What tipped me off recently was seeing an interview where someone claimed they could do 3 years worth of surveying in 10~15minutes with a drone.  They were coming doing surveying by walking about and taking readings vs using a foamie flying wing so i can imaging using a drone is more efficient but the whole 3years -> 10minutes thing was a bit much.

  • According to monster.com, it's still social network cloud service phone apps written in ruby on rails.

  • @ Jake: I disagree... We have regulations you could call "ahead" here in germany basicaly allowing LOS <5kg operations comercially. Anyway there is no real "market explosion" or so. It´s just that applications giving you a job (and probably feeding your family) are quite limited. There are many great ideas but in the end it comes down to the cost per sqaure meter or per photo taken. And then many illusion fall apart...

  • It all hinges on what the FAA decides to do with non-government/institutional UAS regulations.

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