How consumer drones will evolve in the year ahead
Drone sales boomed over the last year as many realized the potential they offer. Big companies like Amazon, UPS, Disney and NASA invested in them — and used them too!
Google and Chipotle tested burrito delivery using drones on the Virginia Tech campus. GoPro unveiled their first consumer drone. The FAA passed a regulation — called Part 107 — that opened the skies for commercial drone use.
All these actions paved the way for the coming year, which will be absolutely dominated by drones. Why? Because they’re both novel and versatile. In fact, we haven’t even scratched the surface in terms of what they can do.
Let’s take a look at how drones — and the drone market — will evolve in the coming year.
- Drones Will Be Easier and Safer for Everyone
As drone technology advances, prices will continue to drop. Already, we’re seeing some remarkably reasonable price tags, and consumers are eating it up. Why wouldn’t they?
That will push drone makers to become more innovative, adding new features and hardware. But the real benefit is that drones will become both easier to fly and safer.
Easier because the autonomous flight capabilities will be perfected. You’ll be able to tell drones where to go, and they’ll do it with little to no input from you. Plus, they’ll come outfitted with modern safety features, so that if anything goes awry, they won’t hurt anyone or damage property. They’ll have built-in failsafe modes, onboard sensors, propeller guards, safety alarms and much more.
Tools to help drone pilots make accurate, on-the-fly risk assessments, will also be available. These are things like preconfigured flight plans, accident and collision prevention and more.
- Drone Prices Will Continue to Drop
DJI — which is one of the world’s largest consumer drone providers — announced an event that will kick off on March 1 of this year. In the meantime, the price of their top-of-the-line model — the Phantom 3 Professional drone — will be discounted by 20%.
That tells you something when the biggest provider lowers the price for their top-of-the-line model. It tells us that drone prices are dropping quickly, and soon they’ll be more than reasonable. Of course, there are a ton of drones for younger audiences that are relatively inexpensive, but we’re talking about professional-grade devices like the DJI Phantom.
If prices for the more expensive models are dropping, then all prices will drop eventually. That means more options for you, the consumer.
- More Key Players Will Leave the Benches
Already, some of the biggest players on the market are adopting drones including Amazon, Google and even DHL. But over the coming year, we’ll see that list grow as more players enter the game.
More companies and brands will begin experimenting with the technology — if they haven’t already — to deploy efficient and optimized processes. Uber published a white paper on flying cars, detailing a plan to gather stakeholders in an effort to build the drone-like vehicles. We’ll bet you never expected a company like Uber to get into the drone market, did you?
Get used to that feeling, because we’re probably going to see a lot of brands enter the space that we never thought would. That is a testament to just how much drones can be used for, which brings us to our next point.
- Drones Will Be Used for Innovation
Did you know that some people use drones for aerial photography, to capture great panoramic shots of an area?
Or that people compete in drone races, where they navigate their craft through a course?
Or that they can capture ground images in higher resolution than satellites or manned aircrafts? This allows them to be used for mapping and topography.
All three of these scenarios show that drones are extremely versatile, and we probably haven’t even scratched the surface in terms of their true potential. They can be used for just about anything, and they will be. Over the coming year, we’ll see both people and brands begin to use the technology to achieve innovative and unexpected things.
- Drones Will Get Bigger
Right now, most people look at drones as small UAVs or unmanned aerial vehicles. But there are government and commercial agencies considering something different, something bigger. What if drones can be used to evolve the public transportation system? What if they can be scaled up in size to transport goods and people to different places all over the world?
That’s the kind of thinking that will see the technology expand tremendously. In a way, self-driving cars are a type of drone and they’re already being tested on public roadways. The difference is that aerial drones have a lot less to compete with when it comes to the open space. There are no pedestrians, additional vehicles, or traffic patterns to contend with. Even the occasional plane or drone they might encounter can be easily avoided.
For all intents and purposes, the air above our heads is wide open and ripe for possibilities. That’s exactly where drones will be taking over.
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