When is a drone not a drone? The answer, it appears, is when it is an autonomous vehicle, pilotless aircraft, satellite, space craft, underwater ROV, marine surface vehicle and even a hybrid system.
This broad interpretation comes from Robert Garbett, founder and chief executive of trade organisation Drone Major Group.
He told delegates to the Drone World Congress in Shenzhen, China last month: “Less than a month ago, leading accountancy firm PwC, forecast that the drone industry in the UK alone would be worth £42billion by 2030… but they were wrong.
“And two years ago, top banking firm Goldman Sachs said the world’s drone industry would be worth $100billion by 2020… they were wrong… it will be much, much more… because the opportunities are far greater than this, since such projections are based purely on an analysis which focuses only on the air industry.
“And we must define the entire drone industry as covering surface, underwater, air and space. So many members of the public simply do not realise the full spectrum of this amazing revolutionary industry.”
Of course, it doesn’t really matter what a piece of equipment is called, it’s what it does that matters.
And, as the dramatic growth of the Robotics & Automation exhibition shows, there is huge interest in the potential for these machines in logistics operations.