Learn about the next generation of drones

Drones are being used by everyone from television producers, to scientists, to your next door neighbor. As drone usage becomes more and more common, engineers continue to expand the impact this technology has on the global community. Serial entrepreneur and advisor to many startups and digital media teams, Brian Hecht joins Hari Sreenivasan to discuss the next generation of drones.


Drones are being used by everyone, from television producers to scientists to your next-door neighbor.

As drone usage becomes more and more common, engineers continue to expand the impact this technology has on the global community.

Here to talk about the next generation of drone technology is Brian Hecht, our serial entrepreneur and adviser to many start-ups and digital-media teams, including our own.

So, you know, we see these beautiful shots in television news stories and so forth and we kind of get that, but how are drones really changing our landscape?

Well, you know, at this point, you can go into any consumer electronics store and buy a drone and fly it over your field or take some pictures, but it really takes sort of the next generation of start-ups to apply drone technology to specific problems in society.

And some of them seem almost cosmetic, and some of them are really world-changing.

Okay, one of them you're talking about is home security.

How does a drone help?


This is a company I like called Sunflower Labs.

And this may not seem like it's gonna change the world, but it is really an irritant for a lot of people.

Lots of homes have home security for exterior.

And, you know, a problem is -- you get a lot of false-negative alarms.

A deer goes across your lawn, and then when it does, a siren comes on and wakes up the whole neighborhood or alerts 911, which diverts important resources.

So, these are little lights that go in your lawn.

And it's a superior software both to detect an intrusion -- things like vibration and a more sophisticated kind of motion sensor.

But here's where the cool stuff comes in.

When it detects a threat, a drone launches from your lawn, goes exactly to where the threat is, shines lights on it, and sends you an alert so you can get a real-time video feed of what's going on on your property.

How's that for cool?

That is cool.

And then, of course, that goes back into the court record and says, 'You were clearly on my lawn at 3:30 in the morning.'

You have evidence.

And it's up to you, as the consumer, to actually trigger the 911 call or to send your neighbor over.

There are some, you know, FAA regulations about that, and you have to trigger the drone, but it's pretty amazing.




There's a company I like called Agribotix.

And they are a leader in the field called precision agriculture.

So, if you're a typical small farmer -- Big agro companies have this nailed, but if you're a small farmer -- Let's say you have a field that's a half mile by a half mile and you're going through a drought.

What do you do?

You just drench the field with water and hope that you get the problem.

But, in fact, of course, it's not uniform across an entire field.

So, they produce drones and software for the drones that allow you to the farmer himself or herself to fly the drone over the field and detect where there may be patches of dryness or infestation or where the crops might be ready to be harvested.

And that allows them to target different treatments to different areas of the field, rather than having the incredibly wasteful activity of just throwing resources at an entire, you know, square footage.

So that increases their efficiency and yield.

It increases the efficiency and yield and it also just makes their lives easier.

I mean, they don't have to plan for an entire effort every time there's a little bit of a dry patch.

Well, a lot of us get packages delivered, and we know that Amazon is working on drone delivery and these packages.

At least, that's been something that they put videos out about.

But they're not gonna be the only ones.

That's correct.

Yeah, and we all saw that news report a few years ago, on another station, about Jeff Bezos saying how Amazon was going to deliver everything in the world via drone to your front door.

But, you know, Amazon is just one company, and there's plenty of room for other companies to do it.

A company called Flirtey -- I'm not sure how they got the name.

But a company called Flirtey is another competitor.

It's very well-funded by venture capital.

And they are specializing in smaller package delivery, everything from food to medical supplies.

And, in fact, one of their pilot programs was delivering Slurpees from 7-Eleven to customers.

And, you know, again, not Earth-shattering, but I think it demonstrates how it actually can be used in real life.

There's still concerns about where you can fly a drone, right?

The FAA has strict rules.

If you're living in a big city or near an airport, you can't go 'X' number of feet up in your backyard.

That's right.

Well, I think the bigger metaphor here is -- I think it's such a big movement that you think about the coming of the automobile at the turn of the last century.

You know, people couldn't conceive -- It was so dangerous to have cars, you know, there with horses and buggies.

And how would the streets ever be safe with children playing in the streets and so forth?

And, sure enough, if the benefit to society is great enough, we figure out these problems -- the convenience, the price, and the safety, most importantly.

All right.

Brian Hecht, thanks so much for joining us.

Thank you.