To give a sense of the scale of the personal drone movement, DIY Drones—an online community that I founded in 2007 (more on that later)—has 26,000 members, who fly drones that they either assemble themselves or buy premade from dozens of companies that serve the amateur market. All told, there are probably around 1,000 new personal drones that take to the sky every month (3D Robotics, a company I cofounded, is shipping more than 100 ArduPilot Megas a week); that figure rivals the drone sales of the world’s top aerospace companies (in units, of course, not dollars). And the personal drone industry is growing much faster.
Why? The reason is the same as with every other digital technology: a Moore’s-law-style pace where performance regularly doubles while size and price plummet. In fact, the Moore’s law of drone technology is currently accelerating, thanks to the smartphone industry, which relies on the same components—sensors, optics, batteries, and embedded processors—all of them growing smaller and faster each year. Just as the 1970s saw the birth and rise of the personal computer, this decade will see the ascendance of the personal drone. We’re entering the Drone Age.
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