After The Age Of The PC, Welcome To The Age Of The PD -- The 'Personal Drone'
from the promising-start dept
Techdirt has been following the rise of small, low-cost drones for some years. A major milestone was the release of the FAA's draft rules for the devices, which came out last February. Quartz has just published an interesting report of an FAA conference on the future uses of drones in US airspace, at which the following statistic was quoted:
Federal Aviation Administration director Michael Huerta told the gathered crowd that more than consumer 500,000 drones had been registered with the agency since December.
Quartz provides some context for the figure of half-a-million newly-registered drones:
According to the FAA, it took 100 years for about 320,000 regular aircraft to be registered with US officials -- a feat that drones have surpassed in a matter of months. Granted, even the largest consumer drone is far smaller than the average plane, helicopter or hot-air balloon, but it's an impressive statistic for an agency that has been criticized in the past for moving slowly on regulations that adapt to the growing uses for drones.
As that rightly notes, there's a world of difference between today's small drones -- "consumer" in this context means anything weighing more than 0.5lbs -- and traditional aircraft. But in many ways, it's exactly the same difference between the very first PCs, and the mainframes and minicomputer systems that had existed for decades. In that respect, we can see the 500,000 registered drones as an indication that we are now truly in the age of the PD -- the Personal Drone.
The conference also touched on a key concern raised by Karl Bode last year, who was worried that over-strict regulation of drones might kill off some promising new business models. Quartz reports:
Speakers discussed the potential for drone operations beyond the line of sight in the future. And the FAA is already testing out the feasibility of delivery services like this. Last month it approved a test by the drone delivery service Flirtey and 7-Eleven to deliver some snacks to a household in Arizona.
Combined with the sizable installed base of personal drones just revealed, that's a good sign for the future of the sector if it is to continue tracking the PC industry in terms of rapid growth.