The dawning of the age of… the drone

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Photo by Lima Pix/Flickr/CC

Photo by Lima Pix/Flickr/CC

Commercial drone flyers, enthusiasts and regulators are coming to L.A. this weekend for the first ever Drone Expo. It’s open to the public and features speakers, flying demonstrations, and drones for sale. And the chance to “meet the next Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak,” says Keith Kaplan, CEO of the Tesla foundation, which runs the organization behind the event, the non-profit Unmanned Autonomous Vehicle System Association (UAVSA).

The UAVSA is an association that advocates for the commercial drone industry. An industry, says Kaplan, that marks the beginning of a new age. “This is like the beginning of the computer industry,” says Kaplan. “It’s like the dawn of computers,” he says. “It’s like airplanes.” Just like the “airplane has become mankind’s greatest tool,” so will the drone.

This UAV technology is the first step for consumers to choose “how they want to apply robotics into everyday life.” It’s like the “ubiquitous acceptance of mass computing into human race.” Basically, get ready for your robot.

“Hollywood has always depicted robots as humanoids, but really they will be human helpers,” he says. There are ways for drones to pinpoint the health and water level of each plant in your field, work to help with wildlife preservation, and assist first responders. They can be used for surveying, mining, photography, video and even delivery.

Below: Drone footage was used as part of a CBS documentary on Chernobyl

What about privacy and safety? New technology and rules will help with that, says Kaplan. His organization is working the FAA to come up with the regulations for the technology. He explains that there will be geo-sensing devices, electric walls so one’s drone simply won’t be able to enter no-fly zones. Basically, a high-tech stop sign.

So why don’t more people have them yet? “After Christmas, that will change,” says Kaplan.

Below: Captain Dave, who uses his drone to capture ocean scenes will be speaking at the event:

The DroneExpo runs from 10-7 on Saturday December 13 and is open to the public. 

More KCRW drone coverage is here.