Chris Anderson, the longtime editor of the geek tech bible Wired, has announced he's leaving the job to focus on 3D Robotics, a San Diego-based startup that's trying to take remote-controlled airplanes and copters to whole 'nother level.
How 'nother? Well, these things can fly themsevles. They're "DIY Drones," like the Arduplane, pictured above, that Anderson himself says is an example of how you can "add [an] autopilot to any RC aircraft and it becomes a fully-programmable flying robot with a powerful ground station and Mission Planner."
Here's what Anderson said about his departure after more than decade at the helm of Wired:
This is an opportunity for me to pursue an entrepreneurial dream. I’m confident that Wired’s mission to influence and chronicle the digital revolution is stronger than ever and will continue to expand and evolve.
Remote-controlled aircraft have been with us for ages, but what Anderson seems to be attempting with 3D Robotics is to bring the drone revolution to the everyday hobbyist. Drones designed for military or border security are already a big business in California, with numerous manufacturers headquartered in the L.A. and San Diego areas. They've become politically influential as their machines have become weapons of choice in modern warfare.
Anderson, however, is aiming at a different market — although it's entirely possible that 3D Robotics may achieve some cheap, off-the-shelf type innovations that the military eventually shows an interest in. For now, the company seems to be more about developing cool flying machines that can be programmed to fly themselves, rather than hunt down terrorists on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.
Anderson is a very successful journalist. But like a lot of journos, he apparently had been dreaming of becoming a doer rather than a chronicler of the doings of others. And now he's making the leap. Sort of. According to Anderson, 3D Robotics is already profitable, worth a few million.
Bloomberg's Tabitha Soren (yes, she of MTV News fame, as well as being Mrs. Michael Lewis) asks in this video: "Why would anyone want a personal drone?"
To shoot videos, of course. That's 3D Robotics' thing: personal camera drones. But whether you accept Anderson's argument that DIY Drones are somehow the flying robotic equivalent of the Apple I that Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak unleashed on the personal computing public, you can see some obvious applications for journalism...or just spying...I mean journalism. Who needs the helicopters when you have a drone air force?
Boldly send your flying robot drone where no journalist has gone before. Now if we could just teach them to use Instagram...