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Drones took to the skys. Where are they going? – I

Parrot, the first ready to fly drone was released in 2010. Ten years have gone by and a multitude of models are now available to, literally, fit any pocket. Image credit: Parrot

The first ready to fly drone targeting the mass market was released in 2010 by a French company, Parrot, at a price of 299$ (around 350$ in today’s money). The user could control it through an app on the iPhone.

In these past 10 years drones targeting the mass market have multiplied growing in capabilities and extending the price range from under 100$ up to e few thousands (1/3 of drones sold in 2018 had a price exceeding 2,000$). Commercial drones have been on the rise as several industrial and commercial applications have emerged. By the end of 2018 there were some 2 million drones officially registered with the FAA.

The reason to write this post is that I did not find “drones” in the list of ten technologies that defined the past decade according to an article on Wired.

If I look at the drone explosion in the past decade I find it amazing:

  • from basically being unknown to the majority of people drones have become so common that children are asking for one as Christmas present;
  • drones have opened a new way of looking and photographing the world. More and more photographers are using drones to get a new perspective of the world. Wedding photographers have included drones in their tools of the trade;
  • their presence has become so widespread that regulators had to notice and step in;
  • technology evolution has endowed drones with increased capabilities and at the same time the growing market of drones has stimulated investment in a number of technology, e.g. artificial intelligence, context awareness, image recognition…
  • a rapidly growing ecosystems of start ups is fuelling investment. The drone market is expected to grow from the 14 billion $ of 2018 to 40+ billion $ in 2024, a 20.5% CAGR.

Drones are now routinely used for infrastructures inspection, Amazon is experimenting (watch the clip on Prima Air) with them (it has got FAA approval in 2019) and Dubai is planning to activate the fist public taxi drones by 2022.

I don’t know if you agree with me but all these looks like a very significant impact to me, so I am for adding drones to the list of techs that defined the past decade.

About Roberto Saracco

Roberto Saracco fell in love with technology and its implications long time ago. His background is in math and computer science. Until April 2017 he led the EIT Digital Italian Node and then was head of the Industrial Doctoral School of EIT Digital up to September 2018. Previously, up to December 2011 he was the Director of the Telecom Italia Future Centre in Venice, looking at the interplay of technology evolution, economics and society. At the turn of the century he led a World Bank-Infodev project to stimulate entrepreneurship in Latin America. He is a senior member of IEEE where he leads the Industry Advisory Board within the Future Directions Committee and co-chairs the Digital Reality Initiative. He teaches a Master course on Technology Forecasting and Market impact at the University of Trento. He has published over 100 papers in journals and magazines and 14 books.