Is the movement growing on its own, or do you think you have to help it along?
There’s really a grassroots movement that is building to try and take this technology that has become more accessible—and it’s cheaper than ever before, and it's easier to use than ever before—to allow people to do things to make the world a better place. The other thing we’re doing to try and stimulate that is to have the Drone Social Innovation Award, a $10,000 cash prize for the most socially beneficial use of a low-cost drone.
How do you compete for such a prize? Who awards it?
The Drone User Group Network. I started it off with the D.C. area drone user group, and then sort of seeded similar organizations around the country or linked up with pre-existing organizations. The mission of the network is to teach as many people as possible how to operate their own drones and to promote socially beneficial uses of the technology. That includes everything from conservation to entrepreneurship to art to community service.
And how do demonstrations like the one that your education director is going to be giving this weekend at the Future is Here science festival help in that mission?
I think it gets people to understand what this technology is and how easy it is to use. We think using the drone is a bit like riding a bike. Anybody can learn how to do it. You do have to have somebody show you.
And do you think that users like yourself and your network can overcome some of the negative implications of drones? People are a little bit afraid of them, don't you think?
That’s true, and that’s because the most prominent historic application is from the military-intelligence complex. But just as we’ve seen with GPS, the way the technology is used historically doesn’t predict what the main applications will be in the future.
Did you invent The Pocket Drone as a result of the network? Or did you create the network as a result of the Pocket Drone?
The Pocket Drone was inspired by the network. I saw gaps in the market with what people were using and had a desire, frankly, to diversify the base of people who were using this technology by making it easier.