A little over a month ago I read an article from The Verge on GoPro's exit from the drone business largely due to DJI's dominance and ability to innovate. I was intrigued by the vertical integration of DJI, and by the pace at which they were able to advance: engineers designing next to production factories, all based in China. I was so impressed that within days I bought their new DJI Mavic Air to learn more about the tech and emerging sector.
My first reaction: Wow.
The technology is truly a step beyond. Similar to the release of the iPhone back in 2007, holding this product in my hands makes me feel like it was discovered on another planet, not soldered together on my own. The hardware is crafted artfully, the mobile app works perfectly and even the controller was built with intention.
I believe the real lesson from the Karma's death and DJI's ascent is that manufacturing must be closely aligned with engineering and design. Tesla's a fan. This allows for swift innovation and for feedback to inform the design and production phases of the process.
What will drones look like in five years, and how will this tech impact transportation, imaging and military industries?
These are not simply RC planes. These are sensing aircraft that avoid obstacles and process the world around them. Scary, amazing and something that surely is not just a passing fad.