The Rise of Everyday Machines

by James Hires

Drones in the U.S.

The line between cyberspace and reality gets blurrier by the day. Computers and robots have gone from science fiction to commonplace in just a few decades.

We're not quite cyborgs yet, but the relationship between humans and machines is closer than ever. Your smartphone is proof of that. Research suggests that trend will continue.

The drone market represents the next wave of everyday robots.

First used by the military, today the civilian drone market is exploding. By 2022, there will be almost 2.5 million drones in use across the U.S. alone. It could be an $82.1 billion industry worldwide by 2025.

Amazon (Nasdaq: AMZN) has stolen the show with its news of delivery by drone. But that's far from the technology's full potential...

Drones are used in dozens of professions from agriculture to law enforcement. In fact, construction companies are some of the biggest buyers of civilian drones.

Drones can do all the surveying, mapping and planning that has to happen before a shovel breaks the ground. They're also shown to make work sites 55% safer.

Strabag, a European construction firm, uses DJI Enterprise's Phantom 4 drone to map their sites.

The Phantom 4 can map a site, model it digitally, and even run volume and mass calculations for building materials in one pass. It allows surveyors to do their jobs more quickly and precisely. That in turn cuts down on time and expenses.

DJI comprises about three-fourths of the consumer drone market, and Ambarella (Nasdaq: AMBA) makes the high-definition video chipsets that go into DJI drones.

Drone technology is a boon for agriculture as well. Farmers use them to monitor their fields.

It's estimated drones could save farmers more than $1.3 trillion annually. They can also boost yields by 2% to 3%, depending on the crop.

AeroVironment's (Nasdaq: AVAV) Quantix drone is the cutting edge in agricultural robotics. It can inspect up to 400 acres of land in a single 45-minute flight.

The Quantix drone evaluates crop health, identifies which parts of the fields are getting the most sunlight and water, and analyzes the crop canopy all from a single pass. It can even pick out anomalies down to a single plant that could signal diseases.

This fixed-wing, semi-autonomous drone can take off, scan an area and land without a human operator, freeing up a lot of time for the farmer.

Law enforcement is also benefitting from the spread of drone technology. Yuneec's H520 hexacopter is a popular choice.

Drones are more efficient and less conspicuous than helicopters. They have been used to locate missing people and capture suspects.

The technology has become invaluable in search and rescue missions. After Hurricane Irma in 2017, Daytona Beach police used drones to scout the safest and fastest routes to victims of the storm.

Drones allow us to see precise details and information the naked eye would miss. They augment physical space with cyberspace, further blurring the line between them.

Welcome to cyber reality.

Good investing,


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