STANDING IN FRONT of a drone in a mesh cage, a somewhat nervous man with a somewhat Southern accent tells us about his machine, which a pilot is banking left and right and flinging up and down. It’s got a 4K camera and can hit 40 mph. When its battery runs low, it buzzes your phone. It’s not just a “solution,” but a “complete solution.”
This is the 21st century version of the Wild Man caged and prodded in a freak show, and that freak show is the inaugural Drone World Expo—75 exhibitors and more than 2,000 drone pros packing the San Jose Convention Center in the heart of Silicon Valley. The overwhelmingly male crowd, which is overwhelmingly wearing branded polo shirts, is here because there’s a mountain of money to be made in this nascent industry, perhaps almost $12 billion a year by 2023. Need a camera system? Look no further. How about lawyers to keep the FAA out of your hair? They’re here too.
This place sounds like the future—a high-pitched white noise not unlike the hum of bees. The smaller drones sound like mosquitoes. Regardless of what insect they sound like, these machines are big business, because more and more, drones are infiltrating our lives.