from Wealth Daily
It’s crazy to think it’s been years now since we first started hearing from the mainstream media that our own skies might one day soon be filled with tens of thousands of drones, photographing and recording our every move from miles up in the sky.
It’s been so long, in fact, that most casual observers have already numbed themselves to these ominous warnings — meaning that if something like that really is in our collective future, the average Joe Schmo has already passively signed off on it and will do little to nothing to prevent or even slow the progression of such government intrusions into his life.
I know, of course, that you’re not like that. You don’t want the sky to become an unlimited canvas on which federal agencies can paint their Orwellian image of future society.
You want to fight back… but you don’t know how.
Well, one way I’ve identified is to embrace the age-old adage, “If you can’t beat them, join them,” and get into the drone business yourself.
And by that, I mean tap into the rapidly expanding market for personal drones.
For 2014, the federal government has earmarked $4.1 billion for all unmanned systems — most of the cost being absorbed by its fast-growing fleets of MQ1 Predators, MQ9 Reapers, and the world’s most expensive and most sophisticated drone, the $131 million RQ4 Global Hawk, capable of staying in the air for 35 hours at a time.
Machines like that are obviously not in the cards for any civilian agency, much less any civilian.
There are, however, far smaller, more affordable cousins to these military machines that are in reach for millions of hobbyists, enthusiasts, and conspiracy theorists.
Now, when I use the term “personal drone,” I know many of you are probably imagining a glorified remote control helicopter with a crude camera mounted on board.
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I’d like to dispel that misconception right here and now. The things offered on the market today, costing between about $1,000 and $5,000, are fully evolved flying robots capable of staying in the air for upwards of half an hour, cruising at altitudes of up to and exceeding 1,000 feet, and operating with almost complete automation.
Many are controllable from a smartphone or tablet and can be programmed to follow a pre-determined route guided by GPS, maintain specified altitudes at every step of the way, and, of course, film anything and everything that crosses their paths in HD.
Machines like Hong Kong-based DJI’s Phantom GPS Drone are perfect examples of what well-heeled beginners in personal droning can expect from their new toys.
The Phantom GPS Drone has a range of about 1,000 feet, is, as its name suggests, guided by GPS, comes equipped with a camera cradle, and will even return itself home automatically when the battery gets low.
The cost: $700.
For ranges of up to and over a mile, you can pick up a more elaborate autonomous UAV Micro Helicopter from Skybotix.
At $5,000, it’s not cheap, but it has the range, the altitude, and the payload capacity to take high-resolution images of things far into somebody else’s private property and probably far from where your prying eye should be.
Alan is serial entrepreneur, active angel investor, and a drone enthusiast. He co-founded DRONELIFE.com to address the emerging commercial market for drones and drone technology. Prior to DRONELIFE.com, Alan co-founded Where.com, ThinkingScreen Media, and Nurse.com. Recently, Alan has co-founded Crowditz.com, a leader in Equity Crowdfunding Data, Analytics, and Insights. Alan can be reached at alan(at)dronelife.com