As you may or may not know, a small, art-house TV show is returning to HBO this weekend for its fifth season. Nobody ever expected this by-the-numbers, low budget, snoozefest to make it this far…
Just kidding. It’s Game of Thrones – a worldwide phenomenon in every sense of that expression.
The interesting thing is, it has some really strange parallels with the consumer drone movement…
It’s source material has been around for a long time.
Remote controlled aircraft, first developed in the early 1900s, is the parent technology that gave birth to the modern drone. It wasn’t until entrepreneurs with a background in computer engineering looked at this older technology through a new lense, gave it a new, sexy rebranding, and made it easily accessible that everyone took notice.
Similarly, the first book in George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series, upon which the show is based, was first published in 1996.
It didn’t amass such an enormous following until entrepreneurs with a background in Hollywood looked at this older fantasy series through a news lense, gave it a new, sexy rebranding and made it easily accessible.
Funny enough, the modern drone didn’t really hit it’s stride until the release of Parrot’s AR Drone in September of 2010 or about six month before the premiere of Game of Thrones season one.
Another interesting parallel between these two origin stories is the fact that the people that have been with each phenomenon since their beginnings aren’t overly happy with the glut of people watering down their passion and at the same time have no problem telling anyone who will listen how much they are missing by not familiarizing themselves source material (the books and electronics, respectively).
It moves incredibly fast.
Do you recognize this face?
Or maybe this one?
If you do recognize these characters, congratulations! You have read the books. If not, it’s because, despite appearing in multiple episodes of Game of Thrones, they were all killed off in the early days of the show.
Oh, spoilers. I guess. When it comes to Game of Thrones, if you don’t recognize a character, it’s probably because they were/will be killed off.
But that’s ok, because it makes room for other awesome characters that we love.
The point is, aside from the main cast, the faces of the show are always changing. Similarly, companies like Parrot, DJI, and 3D Robotics have been with the consumer drone revolution since the beginning while other companies have cropped up and died out around them.
Some players came out of nowhere and immediately endeared themselves to the audience while others made a big initial splash and then were never heard from again. Some players have invested heavily in their own futures while still others have completely switched sides.
All the while, a lot of money has been spent on technologically impressive flying marvels.
And a lot has happened on the show too.
Everybody wants to rule the world but the government is holding them back.
It is a well known fact in the drone community that the lack of federal regulations is severely crippling companies’ ability to push UAV technology to its full potential. The FAA has been very slow to publish its rules and it has been very stingy in allowing companies to conduct necessary test over American soil.
A recent collection of Section 333 exemptions and a green light to Amazon has helped demonstrate some goodwill, but the FAA still stands in the way of some technological giants who just want to fly.
Since the show’s inception, the ruling family (if not in name, then in practice) has been the Lannisters. Say what you will about their motivations, but the Lannisters have maintained total control over the land of Westeros and only allowed upward mobility to those who play with them and by their rules.
Like lobbyists in Washington, all the major houses of Westeros sent emissaries to the Lannister’s court in an attempt to bolster their position and strengthen their hold on the realm… with varying degrees of success.
While the current governing body maintains such unflinching control over the airspace/Iron Throne, it is up to the other players, both big and small, to continue to push the boundaries of what is permissive and wait in the shadows until the time is right to take flight.
You know it’s building to something amazing.
Ever since Jeff Bezos went on 60 Minutes and showed the world how Amazon was going to use drones to deliver packages, it has become abundantly clear that the drone revolution is going to be incredible.
Other technologies like self-driving cars and the Internet of Things are growing at the same time and, though it isn’t clear what the future will look like, we are beginning to see how all the pieces will fit together.
When you see how all these technologies relate to one another and how they could be used in tandem, it’s not hard to imagine a flying car in every home by the end of the century.
Similarly, fans of Game of Thrones have been shown enough plot points and introduced to enough characters to sort of have maybe an shred of an idea about where it is all heading. The White Walkers, Dany’s dragons, Jon Snow’s parentage, Bran’s psychic-tree ability, Arya’s murder list… again, the pieces are there.
We just need a little more time to figure it all out.
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