Wired magazine editor and chief Chris Anderson writes that his other company, 3D Robotics, estimates it has shipped more commercial drone parts to customers (10,000) than the U.S. military has flying today (7,494).
Anderson goes on to explain how in 2007 he came to start an online forum for amateur drone ethusiasts and hobbyists that now has 26,000 members, pointing out that the cheap availability of smartphone sensors has led to an explosion in commercial drone development. Anderson doesn't see this as threatening but rather a revolution akin to that of the personal computer.
What we will do with our personal drones? That question is just as unanswerable—but just as tantalizing—as the same question about personal computers back in 1977. When the Apple II came out, the answer was not much more than “Program it!” But over time, as regular people found uses for PCs in their own lives, they came up with better answers: word processors, spreadsheets, videogames, email, and, eventually, the web. Today we know what personal computers are for, but it took the liberation of the technology to show us. So too for personal drones.
Anderson's piece on how he helped kickstart the "do-it-yourself" commercial drone movement just a few years ago is just one of many stories on the subject in this month's Wired issue and online at Danger Room, part of an extensive look at the industry itself and the rapid pace at which it is advancing.