… and this time it’s not just for fun & games. Tech manufacturers like Sony are switching from smartphones to drones to keep their businesses afloat. That is because the world is about to change in a very significant way and it has a lot to do with drone technology.
While popular news outlets and tech reviewers are keeping us entertained with the latest smartphone reviews and news on Windows 10, a quiet revolution has been taking place in big business. New drones are emerging from the world’s top engineering labs and they are nothing like what you have seen before. Not only that, but the likes of Amazon, Facebook, and Google are already solidifying plans to put them to use.
Just as these companies have changed our life before in the areas of shopping, socialising, and monetising the Web, they’re about to do it again, only this time the changes will be even more profound than before.
Life is about to get a whole lot more futuristic
100 years ago, nobody could have predicted the impact of the Internet on our daily lives. But ever so slowly and steadily, we have adjusted to doing anything and everything online and our worlds have opened up. The transfer of information is incredible.
But 100 years ago people really did predict what’s about to happen: flying little robots zipping around our skies, performing tasks for us. Go back more than a
century and Victorian thinkers were already imagining domestic service robots . Then of course Jules Verne had his flying machine, made famous in his book Around the World in 80 Days. Combine these two concepts and you get early prototypes of the drones now hitting the production lines: flying machines designed to serve us.
Drones with jobs
Now that we’ve seen what consumer drones can do and collectively grown out of the gee whiz phase, it’s time to look forward. How businesses use drones will shape the backdrop for how they change our lives. Just last month, Sony unveiled an industrial drone capable of taking off with an impressive vertical push that has garnered much praise from tech critics.
It’s drones like this which will alter our physical world, changing the low skies around us, forever transforming our outdoor experience. For many, that’s more profound than the information revolution brought about by the internet.
What will Sony do with its drone? Right now they’re marketing their drone at the enterprise level. That includes utility companies that need to survey land and inspect infrastructure, as well as large scale farming operations.
A New Zealand company is breaking ground in similar ways. Flirtey, which bills itself as “the world’s first autonomous aerial delivery company” is already delivering packages in that country. Then, this past July they delivered their first package in the USA. It wasn’t an internet shopping delivery, either. It was an FAA-approved medical delivery whisking medical supplies from a regional airport to a remote medical clinic in Virginia. Imagine the implications for emergency situations (if only drones had been around during the aftermath of Katrina).
The big news there was all the red tape behind that one delivery: it was the first of its kind to be approved by the US government. If you have kept up with things lately you’ll know that the country is now embroiled in legal, private, and safety issues surrounding the growing number of private drones buzzing through our skies.
Investors want drones, not smartphones
The smartphone market is reaching a saturation point where it’s difficult for companies like Sony to maintain the levels of growth that excite investors. That’s one reason Sony Corp. is developing drones. In fact, ABI research reported that drones will represent an $8.4 billion dollar industry by 2019. By 2025 that number could reach $82 billion, according to an economic report prepared by AUVSI titled The Economic Impact of Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration.
That includes sales of data services, apps, licensing, and legal services surrounding the drone industry.
Industry analysts are predicting tremendous growth and companies like Sony are taking note. Sony has posted losses for six of the last seven years. Their new drone division is responsible for reversing that trend to the point where they actually tripled their profits, according to a financial report filed in July 2015.
So long consumer electronics and hello drones. Although the mega-company won’t give up on consumer electronics altogether, that’s essentially what Sony’s president Kazuo Hirai told the Christian Science Monitor in an interview this summer.
Drones are game-changers for all of us
In just three years of enterprise-level drone usage, which is now upon us, more than 70,000 jobs are expected to be created in the US alone. That comes with an impact of more then $13.6 billion, according to the same AUVSI report cited above. By 2025 there will be over 100,000 jobs created.
And what about current jobs in the delivery sector- what will happen to them? Ask your local UPS or FedEx driver what he or she thinks of all this and you’ll probably get your answer (there are almost 350,000 people in the US alone employed by UPS and over 300,000 full time FedEx employees). Warehouse pickers have already lost their jobs to robots. It seems jobs in transportation and delivery are beginning to look a lot less secure and a lot more robotic.
Soon, we can expect not only drone delivery of our packages and our medicine but also anything else which needs to get from point A to point B. Will we then need drones to guard drones carrying precious deliveries? For that matter will there also be bodyguard drones for people? Policing drones? Armed drones? Drones used by private investigators, law firms, and researchers? Can you see it? The drones are coming and they’re going to change not only our skies but also the way we conduct our lives.