Drones as a Service

Earlier today my tech partner and I were grabbing coffee and shooting the shit about all the cool physical devices that are appearing these days. Spheros and Myos. FitBits and Jumps and FuelBands. Arduinos and Raspberry Pi’s. Kinects and Pebbles and quadcopters.

It will be fascinating to see how this all plays out. Some are platform plays and will require an ecosystem; others are vertically oriented. Who knows which one will create the most value; if it was obvious the people who love these things wouldn’t be called “early adopters.”

Anyways, we were trying to imagine what the world will look like when some of these technologies go mainstream – and that led us to quadcopters.

Currently used mainly to bounce balls in Switzerland and chase kangaroos in Australia, it’s worth considering what the world looks like when they’re mainstream items.

You can imagine lots of people wanting access to drones as a way to provide a set of remote eyes-and not just the cops.

Want your roof fixed? The roofer sends the drone to look and then gives you an accurate quote.

Issue with nearby cell tower or electric utility? Send the drone over before sending a human so that we can make sure the truck’s got all the right gear.

Neighborhood watch sees something funny? You guessed it: fire up the drone.

City needs some real time data on the ‘hood? Bingo. Drone time.

Now, the key thing here is that most of these organizations don’t need a full time quadcopter drone-and they’d rather not have to worry about maintaining it, etc.

And this is where the idea of Drones-As-A-Service (DAAS) is born.

Basically, someone sets up a network of drones (we already have spaces for them: they’re currently called cellphone towers) and creates an API or web form. If you need the drone, you just fill out the form stating what you need it do for you (“fly to roof at 1515 West 2nd Ave and execute site sweep. Pause for close-ups.”). You can even imagine an app that notifies you when the drone is available and let’s you communicate with the pilot (alas, she’ll still have to manually fire the Hellfire missile at your neighbour).

I’ve thought about this idea for about as long as it took to write this blog post, so maybe it’s the stupidest idea ever, but thought it was entertaining enough to share with y’all.