Beyond the drone bubble, part 1


Eight reasons to hope in drones, and two to not be fooled by them.

Beyond the drone bubble, part 1 /img/drone-bubble.jpg

In 2012, business reporters explained that “The Drones Are Coming”. In 2018, some of the biggest drone startups began shutting down after burning through hundreds of millions. In 2019, however, there are still plenty of concrete reasons to expect, and demand, drones that don’t burn money, and solve more real problems that they create.

To begin with, in the summer of 2019 some researchers announced an achievement that could lead to an ultralight engine that can power drones for days. As use cases of drones that make sense, consider these, all in the very same years when many glamorous drone startups were going bust:

  1. keep wildfires under control (2012)
  2. expose Factory Farms (2014)
  3. fight poaching in Africa (2015)
  4. fight deforestation (2015)
  5. deliver medicines in the jungle (2016)
  6. assist disaster recovery after hurricanes (2016)
  7. make crop research 10 times more efficient (2018)

Great. Just don’t forget that..

Those are all great and concrete positive drone stories. Let’s not forget, however, that unless they are matched with non-technological change, many such heartwarming drone stories may remain, in the long term, completely diversionary and utterly meaningless. On the same note, I also agree, with that op-ed from 2014 arguing that flying ‘Internet drones’ over Africa “is a dumb, libertarian fantasy”. Too bad they have been replaced with something that may be even worse.

**Image source:*1.Drone Startups Are Consolidating, Closing Shop, or Completely Pivoting

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