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Backed by a vibrant community of developers, hobbyists and enthusiasts, 3DR Robotics is a testament to the power of the open source community to create flexible and extensible UAV technology.

As part of 3DR’s commitment to drive thought leadership in the field, Brandon Basso, our senior R&D engineer, recently participated in a panel on UAV technology co-sponsored by Haas School of Business and Haas Technology Club at Berkeley University. Other featured panelists included Roger Chen, an associate at O’Reilly Alpha Tech Ventures, Shain Farshchi, a principal at Lux Capital, and Bernard (Buddy) Michini, a director of research and development at Airware.

Moderated by Andre Marquis, executive director of the Lester Center for Entrepreneurship at Berkeley, the panel discussed existing challenges and future opportunities for commercial drones.

Highlighting some of the chief use cases, Brandon pointed out the “dull, dirty and dangerous jobs” where robots excel over humans. “Drones can be used for things like search and rescue, ecological study and pretty much anything where operating a manned aircraft would be prohibitively expensive or dangerous.”

With regard to negative perception, the panel agreed that sentiment is, indeed, improving. “Every time we hear about a new commercial application instead of a military application, it moves the needle toward greater social acceptance,” said Brandon.

The panel also cited several global humanitarian efforts that are using drones, including delivery of pharmaceuticals by the Red Cross across desolate parts of Australia and disaster relief efforts in the Philippines.

Looking toward the future, the panelists were uniformly optimistic.

Will drones swarm and darken our skies over the next five years? “That’s pretty hyperbolic,” said Brandon. “I believe drones of all shapes and sizes will be used to tackle a growing variety of tasks — from mundane to sublime — over the next several years. Here at 3DR, we remain laser focused on evolving our platform to enable all of the possible UAV innovations currently being explored, and those yet to be discovered.”