In 2017, over 70,000 drone pilots got their commercial drone pilot’s license, drones were used for damage assessment after two of the largest hurricanes in the past decade, and we saw businesses from insurance to construction to pizza delivery start using drones. If 2017 was heralded as the year that drones would launch into commercial use, then what is going to happen in 2018? More flights? More scenic drone photos?
At Converge, our team has worked with drones for over a decade. We participated in the rise of drones first in the military sector by building the first smartphone app for flying a drone, then pioneered the use of drones for insurance. So we’ve seen quite a few trends, predictions and numbers thrown out over the years for what is coming next. This year, we decided to ask around the office and tell you what our team thinks will be the big headlines in drones this year:
Drones will expose that we don’t give a damn about privacy
Paul Quimby, CTO
We’ll see the first real lawsuits on drones and privacy, but they will ultimately be tossed out. Why? Well, the Echo was the most popular Christmas gift this year. So now we’ve all got a live mic in our kitchens, and it goes even further with the Echo Look, a device that can record video in your bedroom. So are drones taking photos outdoors what we’re really worried about?
The FAA has made it clear they do not want to touch the issue of drones and privacy, leaving it to the discretion of well meaning, but ill-informed, municipalities and state governments. Despite the scare of “peeping drones,” there has not been a real push for privacy regulations that would provide a sound legal foundation for drone privacy lawsuits.
Drones complete their infiltration of everyday life
Dave Pitman, CEO
I’ve dreamed of people having a utility drone in their garage. Whenever I visit my grandparents, I always offer to go up on the roof and check things out for them, largely to prevent my industrious, 89 year-old grandfather from doing it himself, again.
If I could instead give him a drone to use to check his gutters and skylights, and maybe chase down that squirrel he’s at war with, that would be fantastic. I think this is finally the year where drones are so safe and intuitive, we start viewing them as just another tool and not a special piece of tech.
Drone hobbyists are co-opted into the gig economy
Devan Corona, Lead Product Engineer
There are a lot of drone hobbyists out there with a lot of free time on their hands. We’ll see a clever relationship emerge where businesses figure out how to work with these hobbyists and use their skills to create valuable data for the company, despite the lack of a Part 107 license.
For example, as part of your homeowners insurance you get a discount for flying periodic flights around your house to look for storm damage before it becomes a serious water leak in your living room.
What is your prediction for drones in 2018? Send us a tweet at @converge_co!