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Commercial Drone Industry Heating Up 68

DeviceGuru writes "In light of the FAA's recent approval of two unmanned drones for commercial operation in U.S. airspace, it's interesting to see the bits and pieces for building commercial UAVs falling into place. For example, Airware demonstrated its line of autopilot computers for UAVs this week at AUVSI Unmanned Systems 2013 in Washington DC. The devices include multi-rotor capabilities, and support various radios, GPS and inertial systems, servo interfaces, and onboard interfaces such as USB and CAN. The autopilot controllers run a configurable, royalty-free AirwareOS embedded Linux OS, making them amenable to considerable customization. Adding to that, Airware recently received $10.7 million in funding from Google Ventures and several other investors. This raises the question of what's next for the fledgling commercial drone industry."
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Commercial Drone Industry Heating Up

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  • Search and destr... uhhh... rescue! That's it...

    And maybe crop dusters to eradicate cannabis.. er.. I mean.. bol weevils

    • by rossdee ( 243626 )

      Yeah, what is the point of "commercial" drones?

      (If they are to be used for Law Enforcement and anti-terrorism domestic surveilence I would say thats not 'commercial'

      • It doesn't who the buyers and sellers are. When money changes hands, it's commercial.

        • "It doesn't who the buyers and sellers are. When money changes hands, it's commercial."

          I'm curious. You clearly speak a new language I have never seen before. What is it called?

          • :-) What's the... you don't understand English?

            • No. You don't understand it, at least as far as the definition of the word commercial is concerned. :-)
              • How much money for a product or service has to change hands then, before it becomes 'commercial'?

                • It isn't about the amount. On the 1st of the month a lot of people got a check from the government. There was nothing commercial about it. The other day I bought an item from an NPO []. Money changed hands. Again, there was nothing commercial about the exchange.
                  • It makes no sense to separate government from non-government. All the money should be counted as one, especially with the strong business influence over the state. Even the 'communist' countries were/are simply state run capitalism. They use the same spreadsheets as everybody else. Do not try to 'meddle with the forces of nature, Mr. Beal'.

                    • It makes as much sense as using a word with a specific definition to mean something completely different and then trying to weasel out of your misuse of the word while thinking you might be able to pull it off somehow.
                    • Definitions can change at the drop of a hat. Standards are known to become obsolete every once and a while. This might be one of those times. Money is money, no matter :-) who uses it. Your distinctions only serve as distractions.

                    • You just don't seem to get it. Either that or you are being intentionally moronic. The fact that definitions can change is immaterial, since in this case they didn't. When they do change, it isn't because some idiot on Slashdot made a ridiculous statement based on a lack of knowledge of a term, and then proceeded to try his best to back pedal rather than just admitting the mistake. Originally, you were just a guy who didn't know what a word means. There is nothing idiotic about that. You have since ju
                    • commerce

                      1. The activity of buying and selling, esp. on a large scale.
                      2. Social dealings between people.

                      Once again., tell me where that excludes the government... Your attitude leaves a little something to be desired. But thanks for playing. It was very enlightening.

                    • Yes, well, It's all for the entertainment of the viewing audience anyway. Nevertheless, he was doing well at playing the part of the fool.. And maybe you don't understand the meaning of 'commerce' either, considering your implication there :-)

          • capitalism

      • Yeah, what is the point of "commercial" drones?


        But so far only the oil industry gets to use them. Oh, and spy agencies, of course.

      • by Ken_g6 ( 775014 )

        Yeah, what is the point of "commercial" drones?

        (If they are to be used for Law Enforcement and anti-terrorism domestic surveilence I would say thats not 'commercial'

        TV news stations might also buy them. A 1-foot-square quadcopter is much cheaper than a real helicopter.

        • an AR parrot modified to use longer range radio, and longer lasting battery pack(so a slightly larger version) deployable from the back of news vans.

          traffic accident reporting could literally take on a new dimension.

        • Heck, even AM radio stations in Cincinnati could have their own traffic quadcopter drone(s). Les could stop beating his chest as he gazes longingly out a window...
      • Re:What's next? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by SuricouRaven ( 1897204 ) on Saturday August 17, 2013 @03:33PM (#44595549)

        Aerial photography, surveying, temporary communications relays for large gatherings (sports events, concerts and such - hover a few cellphone stations over the crowd), traffic monitoring/reporting, security.

      • Re:What's next? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Urkki ( 668283 ) on Saturday August 17, 2013 @03:35PM (#44595563)

        Yeah, what is the point of "commercial" drones?

        (If they are to be used for Law Enforcement and anti-terrorism domestic surveilence I would say thats not 'commercial'

        First will be ubiquitous aerial photography. There's of course just plain getting photos for fun and for checking things like condition of roof, basically just cheaper version of current aerial photography and videos, such as a personal drone (instead of a helicopter with a camera crew, with total cost probably around $1000/hour) following you and filming you doing some sports.

        But things will quickly go further with imaging stuff. For example, now you have "baby cams" so you can check on your baby sleeping from different room. In future there will be "kid drones" which will follow your kid (to playground, friends houses, going to school...) and let you check on them remotely.

        Then there will be drones that actually do something, such as robot window cleaners, much like there are robot lawnmowers now. A bigger drone can function as a safety harness when working in high places much like an always-deployed parachute, and even a bigger drone can replace so called "cherry picker". In a restaurant or bar, a drone might bring your order to your table.

        Lot of possibilities, and what really happens with drones during next several decades is hard to imagine beforehand, because drones have potential to be a life-changing technology, much like phones - mobile phones - smartphones, or travelling photographers - personal compact cameras - Internet-connected digital cameras. The essential thing with drones is, they can get to places without interfering with people (at least as long as we don't have personal jetpacks in common use).

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Great.... helicopter parents with actual helicopters. What could go wrong?

        • by drkim ( 1559875 )

          I can just imagine the crowded airspace over graduations, little league games, etc...

      • Japan has been using unmanned helicopters to spray crops for decades. Yamaha [] makes them, though they are a little expensive. They are extremely good at it, the down wash from the rotor helps spread the spray all through the plants.

        UC Davis, if memory serves, has started trials on them in the U.S. recently but the restrictive drone regulatory climate needs to relax a little

    • Our Corporate Overlords want to keep an eye on us.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Well isn't this ironic... you tech nerds have been going on and on about how Microsoft is big brother for 20+ years now. Now it's the beloved Linux who will be looking down from above.

  • Here is an angle for drones everyone forgets. Just image the enhanced ability to snoop for the national enquirer. My prediction is that freelance photo hogs will be using them soon. It will be as big as photoshop is for making celebs look bad. Ethics will always be trumped by big bucks with these guys. You can bet that there will be people screaming for "no fly zones" all over the planet as this starts to happen.

    The other aspect is liability for the ones that crash, just suppose one starts a fire somewhere

  • by aapold ( 753705 ) on Saturday August 17, 2013 @02:24PM (#44595079) Homepage Journal
    Fedex drones, Google Streetview Drones, Pizza Delivery Drones, Banner-toting advertisement drones, Summons serving drones, etc etc..
    • by slick7 ( 1703596 )

      Fedex drones, Google Streetview Drones, Pizza Delivery Drones, Banner-toting advertisement drones, Summons serving drones, etc etc..

      Don't forget Chinese take out. The Flying Wok brings a whole new concept into being.

    • You forgot sky cranes. Lifting heavy weight stuff on construction sites or even something like material for roof repair would be ideal.

    • A Fedex / UPS truck that can deploy short range, high cargo capacity (~25 lbs) drones as they drive through the major streets for deliveries could massively increase the speed and efficiency for that industry. A second or the same truck could swing through sending out a retrieval signal later.

      How do the current commercial implementations handle object avoidance of moving objects? I could foresee that current systems which are capable of handling buildings and cars not being so capable at avoiding other sm
    • by drkim ( 1559875 )

      "Something sizzled to the right of him. A commercial, made by Theodorus Nitz, the worst house of all, had attached itself to his car.

      "Get off," he warned it. But the commercial, well-adhered, began to crawl, buffeted by the wind, toward the door and the entrance crack. It would soon have squeezed in and would be haranguing him in the cranky, garbagey fashion of the Nitz advertisements.

      He could, as it came through the crack, kill it. It was alive, terribly mortal: the ad agencies, like nature, squandered hor

  • by slashmydots ( 2189826 ) on Saturday August 17, 2013 @03:57PM (#44595707)
    I have a feeling that Apple and Samsung's drones might shoot at each other.
    • Well, I think we already know which one will be able to survive landing on the ground from more than 3 feet...
  • by Anonymous Coward

    The trouble is, we have all been exposed, in fact over-exposed, to drone-use-abuse. For it our first thoughts go to abusive uses drones could be put to. Uses such as law "enforcement", spying, paparazzi-platforms, gangster-rub-out "torpedo" use, as the CIA and Obama Admin have made notorious, etc.
    In fact, there are probably almost as many legitimate uses for ariall drones, or remotely operated arial vcehicles (ROAVs) as there are for submarine drones, or remotely operated underwater vehicles (ROUVs). Air

  • Video cameras can be destroyed with a pen laser. Fly over my house and I guarantee you will be buying a new camera each flight. If one can kill a mosquito with lasers a drone will be child's play.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Our local PD here in South Carolina has been using aerial drones without approval for months now. They have been spotted around town at dusk due to their lighting. Sometimes they hover over the ghetto, and sometimes they fly over the lake, presumably looking for people drinking on boats.

    But, the point is, they can't be the only ones.

  • ...will soon be an investor's wet dream?
  • There's a reason private pilots aren't allowed to fly manned aircraft over urban airspace. If there aren't rules restricting the use of drones in cities to licensed operators with lots of insurance, there will be. I doubt it'll ever be economical for pizza delivery.
    • Private pilots fly over urban airspace all the time. I used to live in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and there are small airports all over the place.

      • Most of these toys are just somewhat improved RC planes and are allowed to fly up to about 300 feet. The important thing for people to realize is that most of these are mere toys and just as useless.
    • It's not a matter of it being "super regulated" or not. With the (very tightly controlled) approval of specific uses for two specific aircraft being the exception, all commercial use of UAS (regardless of size) is banned by the FAA. It's hard to be more regulated than "banned."
  • As soon as they put these drones, aka big skeet, up there us hillbillies will use them as targets. No humans will be harmed during this sport!!!

The shortest distance between two points is under construction. -- Noelie Alito