The Flying Drone Market
In the past year I have written a number of articles here on CloudTweaks about Drones. I enjoy flying drones. One thing I’ve used my drone for is proving I didn’t need to do the worst fall maintenance job ever. Cleaning the gutters of the house by flying the drone around the house I was able to demonstrate that in fact, the gutters were clean and did not require me climbing a ladder and cleaning them.
Now I did have a gadget-based plan B, if in fact the gutters were full of leaves. I have found a device, (robotic) which will clean your gutters for you. You simply have to make sure that it has a clear path, or you move it from one section of the roof to another. While there is still some effort, there isn’t that horrible feeling of leaning away from the ladder to reach that last bit of debris that is left in the gutter.
If you take my modular drone concept you could make the gutter cleaning even easier. The modular grabs the gutter cleaner and carries it up to the roof. You then place it in the gutter, and let it run. The device stops when it is done and you then use the drone to grab the device and move it to the next gutter.
Ground Based Robotics
Today there are ground based robotic vacuum cleaners and lawn mowers. My favorite use of a robotic vacuum was the video of a cat wearing a shark fin, riding around the house on the robotic vacuum. That to me seems like a great use of both a cat and a vacuum. With the lawn mower, you simply stake out the edges of your yard and let the device go. It will mow the yard in a linear fashion at the time you select.
Drone Potential Uses
This got me thinking about what drones are yet to come. What lies just beyond the edge of the mass market? First off is a concept I’ve talked about here on CloudTweaks before. The concept of modular or easily removed drone components, such as the ability to change from regular cameras to infrared cameras. So you can check your gutters and then fly over your roof and see where you are losing heat, or where you need to insulate. My recommendation is the adoption of the existing standard Tripod mount. This would integrate the various specialty cameras while reducing the overall cost for the drone makers and the camera makers.
The next change is to make flying the drones easier. That has radically improved with the inclusion of the GPS chips in many drones. You can utilize the concept of ‘follow me’ or of ‘launch and hover’ at a specific height. Or even at a precise height and location if you are using the drone to do the same task over and over. The flying yokes are reminiscent of the systems used by radio control model plane flyers for many years. They are not the easiest to learn and drones can be a little sensitive when it comes to the controls.
(Image Source: Shutterstock)
Price points have to come down a bit for the features that users want. Today there are a number of what I would call price zones for the drones that are available. The $100 to $300 drones will fly and take video and still pictures while flying. They will map their flight onboard. A couple even offer the streamed imaging but the quality is still pretty low. So you can stream a live video feed from the device but it is standard definition or low quality high definition. If you move up to the $300-$750 range in initial price, the streaming video is available on almost all of these drones and the quality goes up. You move, however, from the tablet controls of the cheaper drones to the flying yoke. Finally, we have the last category and that represents drones over $750. If you plan on having high quality video (4k or Ultra High Definition) you will have to move to one of these drones, or build one yourself. The other thing to consider in the drone pricing is if you want to lift or move something you will need a more expensive drone.
The last category, by the way, runs from $750 to well over $10,000. Over time as more and more functionality is added to higher end drones I will probably have to break the categories up a little more.
Those are my three initial price categories to get the Drone market to the tipping point. Lower the prices or increase the ability of lower end drones to become modular and make them a little easier to fly. The adoption of the tripod mount for all cameras and devices attached to drones is actually fairly simple. Making them easier to fly may be as much of educating me as it is of fixing the flight controls. The price points will come down as Drones move to the mass market.
Personally, I do not think the tipping point is far away for the drone market.