A Million Little Quadcopters
For every newsworthy drone, there are at least three quadcopters that were virtually indistinguishable from one another. The appearance of near-identical baseline models is often a sign of health for a new product category. And unlike in cleaning robots, where iRobot’s Roomba completely dominates a handful of also-rans, the battle for drone supremacy is a pitched conflict, with a wealth of companies and models preparing to meet what analysts expect to be a significant spike in demand in the coming years (with commercial drone sales projected to reach $1.9 billion by 2020).
So if we’re bored by Hobbico’s new ORA quadcopter, which debuted at CES 2015 with an admittedly slick-looking 10-channel flight controller (its 7-inch touchscreen is essentially an embedded Android tablet), who cares what we think? The drone’s 30 minute flight time (more than most models in its class), and $1,500 to $2,000 price point could push it over the top for some customers. And maybe Eken has the right idea, building its FlyHawk hexacopter out of styrofoam. Not some fancy, industrial-strength variant, but the same standard-issue styrofoam that other drones might come packed in. For consumer drones to thrive, there should be too many models for the press to cover, and cut-rate designs that actual customers might appreciate. The sheer number of drones out now should be comforting to drone enthusiasts. The rules regarding where and how to fly them might be unclear, but make no mistake, the robots are already here.
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