Airspace integration and management solutions for drones continue to garner new investment, but most options are based on fairytale scenarios and raise more questions than answers.

I’ve been doing research on the commercial drone industry since early 2012, and it never ceases to amaze me how much hype there is.  A week doesn’t go by where I find a new fantasy forecast or see an announcement on how this or that drone networking solution is “game changing.”

How real are those claims that drones will one day be filling our skies and delivering packages? Where and when will we see massive industry growth and is that growth dependent on the existence of a drone network?  In this post, I’ll go over a few misconceptions, discuss the harsh reality, and offer two lessons learned that I hope will help make the conversation a bit more rational.

The hype

Question: How much spin is out there on drone networks?  Answer: A lot.

Take this piece, for example: In The Drone Network of Tomorrow (It’s Closer Than You Think). The author wants you to believe that the drone network of tomorrow is a few hurdles away.  In this futuristic world, users will remotely dispatch multiple drones right from their offices. They’ll specify the flight path, and the drones will fly there autonomously and collect data. In this world, there will be drones-for-hire stationed at key locations and you will just click on button to summon them at your command. It will be “the Internet of drones” and it will be accomplished via the LTE network, the same network to which every smartphone is connected today.

Investors buy it.

Read The Big Money Continues to Bet on Drones, which discusses Verizon’s recent acquisition of Skyward. Read Airmap’s own take on their announcement of $26 million in Series B funding from Microsoft, Airbus, Qualcomm, Yuneec, and Sony, with Microsoft leading the round.

The press buys it.

Read this recent article in Recode. It says:

Drones are, after all, flying computers that connect to the internet—connectivity on a drone is often used to share flight information with other drones, report to air traffic control or send aerial imaging back in real time to the operator.

I bought it, too.

In December 2014, I wrote Why Drones Are the Future of the Internet of Things.

But since that time I’ve done a lot a research to find evidence supporting industry claims, and the truth is, at every turn I’ve come up empty handed and found many misconceptions.

Continue reading here:http://droneanalyst.com/2017/03/02/why-the-drone-network-of-tomorrow-is-farther-away-than-you-think/

E-mail me when people leave their comments –

You need to be a member of diydrones to add comments!

Join diydrones


  • One of the big unknowns here is the FAA...it seemed a very different FAA in Dallas last week at the Uber Elevate Summit than the one that has regulated the GA fleet to the point where its average age is nearly 50 years old, this is similar to the age of the automobile fleet in Cuba that was constrained by sanctions.

    As the FAA changes to a "performance" based regulatory framework like the new Part 23 coming out in August and away from a "prescriptive" regulatory framework, it could one of the catalysts of change that might bring the future to us more quickly that you think. 

  • Sander - The main point of the article is the over-focus on UTM/BVLOS and the potential impact it could have on unnecessarily over-regulating and over-equipping the large number of commercial VLOS applications. If you have facts to dispute those presented in the article please provide them. - Colin

  • 100KM

    I've read your article and your point seems to boil down to the last statement;

    Why would anyone invest in these systems if they’re riskier than either military drones or manned aircraft, particularly when the regulatory environment is unclear?  Just how would the FAA regulate a drone network?

    That, to me, seems like an argument from ignorance. I could easily confront you with a number of situations where mankind encountered a new type of transportation like the introduction of cars, airplanes, helicopters and even segways. And as you do now, all those introductions where met with hurdles and skepticism but they all found their place in society.

    Looking at the current rise of drones it seems to move even faster than my earlier examples so it would not surprise me if legislation on the matter will rise just as fast. The groundwork is already being done by both EASA and the FAA. Meeting the requirements set forth will be a challenge but this challenge is presented to one of the most innovative group of people in the world (the drone developers).

    I believe the world will change to accommodate drones in everyday life because the usefulness outweighs the potential risk and that has always proven to win.

  • Developer

    Ideas are easy, reality is hard.

This reply was deleted.