In five years the skies could be filled with drones delivering groceries to our doorsteps, chasing criminals and saving people from disasters. Or it might not. The point is, the future of drones in our everyday lives is still a bit murky. What is clear, though, is the fact that as much as some of us shudder at the thought of drones constantly hovering over our heads, there’s no turning back. We’re just going to have to get used to it.
That’s the sentiment put forth by Christian Sanz, founder and CEO of the drone company Skycatch, during the EY Strategic Growth Forum in Palm Springs, Calif., on Thursday. Sanz, a Navy veteran, equated the acceptance of seeing drones as part of our daily lives with our forbearers’ adoption of the automobile.
“When cars were put on the streets, people were freaked out,” Sanz said. “Look at cars now. People are used to the noise, people are used to cars in front of you, people are used to having concrete all around them. Generations adapt.”
Sanz believes the first group to fully embrace drones will be Generation Z, the demographic cohort that follows Millennials.
“I think we are just going to continue to evolve and the things that we think are going to be terrifying, we’re just going to get used to,” he said. “Just like helicopters. People were terrified of seeing helicopters flying in the air.”
Unfortunately, Sanz said, bureaucratic red tape continues to hold up drone adoption for US companies. While the Federal Aviation Administration, which sets drone regulations, has focused more on keeping people safe, Sanz explained, other countries have been moving ahead of the US when it comes to making it easier for businesses to use drones.
“In Japan, you can move really quickly. You don’t need any license,” Sanz said, referencing the fact that drone operators need to obtain special licenses to operate the crafts in the US.
But Sanz is hopeful that such barriers will begin to fall in the US as they have in other countries over time. “It’s an evolution. At some point there isn’t going to be any red tape,” he said.
In other words, it could just be a matter of time before we see the sky filled with drones crisscrossing the landscape.
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Email Daniel at firstname.lastname@example.org; follow him on Twitter at @DanielHowley.