Five Awesome Videos Document Portland's Drone Revolution

As the state's unmanned aircraft enthusiasts prime for a commercial boom, footage from Portland's skies hint at an exciting, strange future above.

By Zach Dundas December 4, 2014

As writer Jonathan Frochtzwajg reports in his Portland Monthly feature story on Oregon's burgeoning drone industry, some dreamers and innovators want to give the state a "Silicon Sky"—a vibrant cluster of innovative businesses dedicated to unmanned flight.

While the excitement is real, so are the challenges: chiefly, that the Federal Aviation Administration has not yet issued the rules that will govern commercial drone use in the USA. So meanwhile, Portland's drone entrepreneurs and hobbyists—overlapping groups, to be sure—must content themselves with bold plans and fragmentary glimpses of the much more robust future they envision. As the CEO of the local drone start-up Skyward told Jonathan: "In 10 years, the aerial-robotic network will be as common to our civilization as the smartphone is today."

For now, the growing collection of drone-shot video of the city provides a foretaste of that emerging era, when the sky just above our heads could become a new frontier for art and commerce.

In this promotional video, SkyWard, a 12-person firm that recently received a $1.5-million venture capital infusion, outlines its concept of "urban skyways": defined and regulated drone lanes above major cities.

Urban Skyways - from SkyWard from SkywardIO on Vimeo.

This popular clip promotes Portland's whole tech scene with a bracing drone flight through the headqarters of local start-ups.

If you want to see a Portlander in full pirate garb level his musket at a drone flying the Skull and Crossbones (and you know you do), look no further than this footage from the prolific local duo Roswell Flight Test Crew.

This flyover of the 2013 version of the XOXO Festival highlights a dilemma of modern social conduct: do I acknowledge this drone that's cruising me, or do I ignore it?

Finally, while the ultimate commercial applications of unmanned aircraft remain to be seen, we do already know one thing: they make cityscapes look very, very cool.

Read the whole thing.


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