Full transcript: Recode’s April Glaser talks drones on Too Embarrassed to Ask


Recode answers your questions about how high, where and when you can fly your drone.

On a recent episode of Too Embarrassed to Ask, Recode robotics reporter April Glaser spoke with Recode’s Kara Swisher and The Verge’s Lauren Goode about consumer drones and the regulations surrounding them.

You can read some of the highlights from their discussion at that link, or listen to it in the audio player above. Below, we’ve posted a lightly edited complete transcript of their conversation.

If you like this, be sure to subscribe to Too Embarrassed to Ask on iTunes, Google Play Music, TuneIn or Stitcher.

Transcript by Celia Fogel.


Lauren Goode: Kara, where are you right now?

Kara Swisher: I’m in D.C.

LG: I don’t know why you sound — I don’t know — rather ominous about that.

KS: Everyone is so sick of this election here, but when you’re in Washington you’re even more sick of it.

LG: Yeah, what is the vibe there? Is it everything that everyone’s talking about?

KS: It’s the Obama administration so they’re pulling for Hillary Clinton, obviously. But you know, everyone’s sick of it. The news and then the debate. I’m going to a debate party in D.C. tomorrow night, which should be just awful. But otherwise, you know, here we are.

LG: I think it actually sounds fascinating. I think you should live tweet it.

KS: Yeah. So just briefly, you know, when I was on the plane, now Samsung Galaxys, Ina was talking about them being announced as awful phones, and it just went on and on on my many many flights that I took recently.

LG: Yeah, I think the FAA has officially banned it. In case you’re listening to this and you missed last week’s episode, you should definitely go check it out because we talked to Recode Senior Mobile Editor Ina Fried about Samsung’s exploding battery problem, and what comes next now that they’ve stopped making the Note 7. I mean, just the bad news around it keeps trickling out.

KS: My kids even knew about it. They were making Samsung battery exploding jokes and they use Apple phones, so it’s kind of funny.

LG: Yeah, and originally last week we had planned to talk about drones but we called an audible — Kara, you totally know what that is — we called an audible and we changed topics to talk about Samsung. And so this week we’re back to drones. So Kara, last week you were just talking about drones with James Corden when you interviewed him.

KS: Yes, he had a bad experience. He had drones hanging over his house taking pictures of his kids and his family and his wife and mother, I think. And so he got in a car and tried to chase it and wasn’t able to find the drone operator but he was pretty pissed because they were taking pictures of him. Here’s a clip from what he said on Recode Decode about that.

[clip]

Do you know what? A drone flew over my house the other day …

Oh, they were probably taking a picture of you.

… and just hovered over our garden, and I was in the garden with my wife, my children, my mum. And we were like … it flew over and then came back …

Yeah, they’re taking pictures of you.

But then we were like, “Is that…?” And I went out in my car to try and find …

Right, the drone person.

Yeah.

You can’t.

Yeah. I mean shocking, no?

I agree.

So why are we all right with this?

[end clip]

LG: Wow, okay. While you were schmoozing in Hollywood with James, I was chatting with Recode’s newest reporter, April Glaser, who covers robots and drones and all sorts of cool stuff like that. And she has graciously agreed to join us this week to answer all of our questions about drones. So April, welcome to Too Embarrassed to Ask.

April Glaser: Thanks so much for having me.

LG: Thanks so much for coming on the show.

KS: Yeah, so April, thank you for joining Recode. We hired April because we think this is an area that’s ripe for fantastic stories and all kinds of issues around regulations and rules and everything else. So let’s just jump right in. April, you’re an expert now within just a month of being here, correct?

Yeah, it’s my first month and it’s been great.

KS: Okay, well you better be completely right about everything, just so you know. [laughter] Not to say I’m your boss but you better be completely right. No, I’m teasing.

So let’s talk about where we are with consumer drones. Everyone talks about them and there’s lots of drone jokes. But where are we with the rules and regulations and why are they so confusing? Everyone really doesn’t know — I don’t know what’s going on with them.

A lot of people don’t know what’s going on. You’re certainly not alone, Kara. The rules are confusing because they’re actually still being written. The rules that are on the books now were only finalized at the end of August, and that was just a couple months ago, so people are still acclimating to what is out. The FAA has another rulemaking scheduled in December to determine how drones will be allowed to fly over people or over populated areas.

And really, before there were even the federal rules on the books for how to fly, there were kind of a patchwork of laws across the country. And so when the federal laws came out, there was all this confusion about what applied, what didn’t apply, but in general, federal laws preempt state laws. So it’s been kind of a hodgepodge only until August, and it’s still being written.

LG: I know in the Bay Area it’s this great irony because there’s so many early tech adopters in the Bay Area and you see people flying drones and things like that, but there are also so many airports in this particular area — between Moffett and San Jose, San Francisco, Palo Alto and up to Oakland — that it seems like there’s just this blanket of no-drone rules in the area. And then you go to specific parks now and specific parks will say “No drones here.” And it’s like you never really know if you’re supposed to [fly]. You should always follow the FAA rules and regulations but then there are local laws, too. It just seems so confusing.

So what you’re drawing a distinction around is flying for fun. So if you’re flying in a park for fun, if it’s not for professional purposes, if you’re not a photographer or giving some sort of site inspection, you still need to register your drone in the same way you would maybe get a fishing permit to go fishing. It only costs five bucks and you do it online.

But you don’t need a license to fly in that case. If you’re just flying in a park around people who have okayed it, if you’re just taking aerial photography and you can of course see the drone, than that’s fine. If it’s within a few miles of an airport or any sort of controlled airspace, than no, you cannot fly the drone right now. Airports are usually a bit farther out from where people live so that’s easy to avoid, and a lot of drones have geo-fencing where they’re just not going to operate over controlled airspace like an airport or a prison.

LG: Generally speaking, what’s the highest you can fly a drone?

400 feet unless you get a waiver. Different companies have gotten waivers. But 400 feet is the designated spot on the airspace spectrum where you can fly.

KS: So what about as a journalist? Like what James was talking about. Because a lot of people are using them, everything from real estate to things like that. Beyond consumer drones — which I think we’re going to talk mostly about — what is the thing that people are using it for the most?

Photography. Drones are capable of getting these superhuman shots, right? They can go where you just can’t go, above the trees, over water. And it’s spectacular and people want to get those shots. Of course that includes over people’s homes, right? And you’re not supposed to be flying a drone over people or over buildings where there’s not permission to do so.

So it’s possible but it’s actually kind of gray. You’re not supposed to, it’s really hard to say exactly what’s going to come of that. The FAA is making rules about flying over populated areas in December, but those rules are still being written, like I said. But most drones are used for photography purposes in that case, like for journalism. And they’re subject — journalists are subject — to the same rules that any other commercial operator is subject to: They actually have to get a license from the FAA to operate and they have to take a written test. And do a little studying and actually know how to pilot.

LG: Yeah, [drones] can be difficult to pilot and they require a learning curve. I think in the case of journalists, if you’re not a freelancer I believe your organization — your media organization — has to have some type of license outside of the individual license. Is that true in order to fly?

I’m not sure about that. My understanding is that if you are flying for professional purposes, you have to adhere to the FAA part 107 rule that was passed in August that I was talking about that requires you to get a special license. Whether or not the organization has to, that I’m not sure of.

KS: So what are the most popular drones right now? And the costs and things. Just give us a rundown.

DJI is by far the most popular drone company. They’re based out of China, they have 70 percent of the market right now in terms of consumer drones. Their most popular is the Phantom 4, and that costs around 1000 bucks. These are expensive pieces.

LG: Toys. [laughs]

Yeah, they’re expensive toys. They’re also professional pieces of equipment in many ways, right? But there’s a lot of other smaller ones that are in the $500, $400 range that may fit in the palm of your hand, and those you don’t need to register if they’re approaching a pound. Most of those you don’t have to register — the FAA has guidelines on their website around that.

But for the most part, like the GoPro drone that is supposed to be coming out later this year, that’s going to cost around 1000 bucks. Even the new DJI drone, the Mavic, again: A thousand bucks. I mean, these are an investment. And so people really want some clarity about what they can and can’t do with it because they’re spending so much money.

LG: What are their return policies generally? If you fly this thing into a tree just because you’re an inexperienced drone flyer and it gets destroyed, can you get it repaired, can you return it? Are you throwing $1000 to the wind, no pun intended?

[laughs] That’s a great question. Return policy, I don’t know what it is. I guess you would maybe want to check that before you cough up a grand to have a really fancy camera with wings, yeah.

LG: So what about recovery and relief efforts? We talked a little bit about journalism, commercial real estate, it all makes a lot of sense. But you’ve written for Recode about the use of drones during Hurricane Matthew, and also you wrote about a program that involves delivering blood in Rwanda. Tell us a little bit about how drones are being used for that sort of thing.

Like I said, the rules were passed in August, so we’re starting to just now see them used for practical reasons like recovery efforts. And it’s not that the drones are actually doing the rescuing or the recovering or scouting that much. In fact, if a drone gets in the way of a low-flying recovery flight, then they could be fined upwards of $30,000 by the FAA.

But drones are being used when it comes to infrastructure repair and scouting out areas that perhaps have flood waters that have been too high, [like] after Hurricane Matthew like in North Carolina where cars still can’t go. And it’s really expedited getting people back online, getting infrastructure back up, because they can fly the drone, see where there’s damage or where there’s not damage, and then send a boat out. Verizon reported doing this.

And they also are using drones for inspecting insurance issues. So before where an insurance claims person would have to climb on a roof of a very damaged structure — which is quite dangerous — a drone can now go up there and get a bird’s-eye view faster and safer. And so we’re already seeing that happen. Drones are being used in the field and you’re going to actually see a lot more of them.

LG: And then of course there are the burrito drones [laughter]. The burrito drones, that’s something that X — formerly Google X but now just called X — had done. They did it as sort of this pilot and people of course just latch onto this idea of a drone delivering a burrito.

But their long-term goal is actually, “How can we get rid of a 4,000-pound truck that delivers stuff and it has a carbon footprint?” The idea is, what if you just delivered things? Kara needs to borrow my hammer and then I have a hammer so I just send a drone to her. Amazon has been experimenting with this as well, it seems like the potential for things …

KS: I’m thinking of opening a business of hawks, that’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to have hawks that … [laughter]

Like drone delivery is going to solve what people are generally calling the last-mile problem, right? Sure, you can ferry goods to a central location, but once you have to send them to each individual driveway, to each front door, that takes a lot of time, and it costs money. And people really get slowed down on the roads for traffic and all kinds of things like that. So the hope from Amazon and Google and other industry folks that want to get in the delivery game, is that they’ll just bypass all that traffic, fly above it and deliver the package to your door with a drone.

That’s not legal yet. It’s not legal because one of the rules on the books with the FAA is that you can’t fly a drone out of line of sight: You have to see the drone operating. But that’s not practical when you’re trying to deliver packages. You don’t want someone following it with a car — you actually can’t operate a drone from a moving vehicle anyway without a waiver.

So right now Amazon is testing their drone delivery program in the U.K. And they have a test site in Canada and maybe other places. They’re very secretive. But we know about their U.K. program for sure, and their Canadian program. Apparently they’ve developed over 10 new versions of their drone that they’ve been testing. And they hope to soon — people are saying 2020 at the earliest — get their drones delivering to the front door. That will really make Amazon a delivery service as well, not just an online retailer, but they’re kind of the whole kit and kaboodle.

LG: Right, another piece of their massive distribution puzzle. Why are they testing in the U.K. and Canada? What’s so different about the rules there? Are they more lenient? Are they more advanced? What’s going on there?

Leniency is a big part of it. They wanted to do it in the U.S. because that’s where most of their customers are. And Congress ordered the FAA to create rules back in 2012 and they were supposed to be done with the rules that they just finished in August by 2015, so they were a year late on creating those rules. Whereas the CAA, the British version of the FAA, the Civil Aviation authority, came out with their rules a year in advance of the FAA’s rules. And then Amazon had requested for the FAA to get a waiver to test their drone technology in the U.S. and the FAA just wasn’t ready. When they finally did grant that waiver, the aircraft that Amazon had requested the waiver for was already obsolete.

The U.K., on the other hand, granted Amazon a waiver to test much faster — within months, Amazon said. And they developed their testing facilities there. The U.K.’s version of the FAA might also be more ready to work with private companies. The air traffic control system in the U.K. is run by a public-private partnership, whereas in the U.S. it’s government run, our air traffic control.

Air traffic control is going to be key to figuring out drone delivery because, unlike with airports, drones don’t start from a designated point. They could take off and land anywhere, by design. And we need to be able to know their flight path, where they are. We need to be able to tell drones in real time — say, if there’s a fire that they need to avoid, things that you can’t necessarily predict or forecast. And there needs to be a way to communicate and know where they are. Without that kind of mapping technology, which isn’t necessarily easy, this kind of low-altitude unmanned mapping technology, with air traffic control we’re not going to see that delivery happen. And if the U.K.’s more ready to work with private partners …

I’m not saying the FAA isn’t ready to do that, but whoever figures this out first might get the startup funding first. Might see industry move there first. Industry wants to go ahead and operate where it’s legal to do so, so they’re going to move where it’s legal to do so.

KS: Absolutely. So the last question, there’s a lot of talk about personal drones. These follow you around and record your lives. There was, I guess, Lily? I forget the name of it, but anyway, there’s a bunch of them. So talk about these just a little bit, the idea that you have a personal drone that just records you.

LG: I want one to follow Kara around through her life, just all of your meetings, like hanging out with James Corden and going to White House dinners. I just want the drone to follow you everywhere. [AG laughs] I would watch. I would watch. Vox video, take note.

I guess it might pilot a new area of reality TV, but the idea is that these drones can detect people or objects and then follow them around. DJI’s new consumer drone can do that and the Phantom could do that too, but really it’s getting much more sensitive.

I got to play with the Mavic, and I tell you, it felt like having a dog follow me around. But it was this mechanized … And I kept looking back and I was like, “You’re still there, okay.”

LG: Did you name it?

I wasn’t with it long enough to develop that kind of affinity. But it is something that people are considering they want to do. And it raises a lot of the same questions that the proliferation of smartphones has raised, with people taking pictures and videos everywhere and maybe not everyone wants to be in your picture or video, but you know what? You’re in public.

So it’s definitely going to raise a lot of privacy concerns if people have their drones following them around. That said, you’re really not supposed to be operating a drone in a populated area without the consent of the people around you. And these drones that do follow you around, they usually have some sort of geo-fencing or safe distance that they’re programmed to keep.

So it’s not like you’re going to have four choppers swirling right next to your head giving you an unwanted haircut. But this is something that, as we start to see more drones come up, especially with the holiday season, we might also see a bit more drones tagging along with folks where it’s safe and sensible to do so, I hope.

LG: So they’re not supposed to be in populated areas for safety reasons or for privacy reasons. Because right now you can walk down the street wearing a face computer [AG laughs] like you see in Silicon Valley, you know Google Glass. Or just hold your smartphone up. And I think it’s just visible to the human eye and you’re not using a zoom lens and all that. It’s fair game, right?

Totally.

LG: If you’re in public space. So it’s interesting to me, this whole idea. I would imagine it’s more for safety reasons.

It is. One of the other reasons the FAA has taken a bit longer than the U.K., for example, is that a lot of privacy advocates have raised flags in the rulemaking process and slowed it down and brought up all these privacy considerations.

There’s just been a lot of competing interest, which is a sign of a healthy democracy, that has really slowed down this rulemaking process in a way that we haven’t seen in the U.K. But the final FAA rules really did not touch on privacy, and mostly of course we’re about safety. The FAA is not a privacy regulator.

KS: All right. So we’ve got questions from the audience about this issue of drones and where they’re going, and in a minute we’re going to hear some of those questions, but first …

[ad]

KS: All right, we’ve got a lot of questions today. Lauren, why don’t you take the first one.

LG: The first question is from Adam Gibson, he’s @AGThink on Twitter, and he asks, “With the collapse of 3D Robotics, what major U.S. manufacturing companies could compete with DJI Global going forward?” So 3D Robotics is a Berkeley-based drone company, and did they collapse? Does anybody know anything about that?

Well, they didn’t collapse, but what they did is they decided to sunset their consumer drone. So they’re still going to provide service for those that are out there, but they’re pivoting now to …

KS: Pivot! Sorry.

[laughs] They’re pivoting to a commercial drone market, and they want to serve construction companies, site inspections and things like that.

LG: Okay. They didn’t collapse. As April points out they ahem pivoted. [AD laughs] So it seems like they’re still in the game. But what other major U.S. company of drone makers could actually compete with DJI? Do we know of any?

I actually don’t think that any can compete with DJI on that level. They already have such a market share, they have really good products. You know, for GoPro’s drone to compete with DJI, they would have to sell so many because there are already so many out there and people are familiar with them. I actually think DJI is the leader right now. I might be missing some companies that have a fanbase that I’m not aware of, but in terms of the popular ones, I think DJI’s got the market share right now.

LG: Yeah. It’s funny, I have a 3D Robotics Solo drone sitting in my apartment that I have not yet flown. Mostly because I can’t find a place where I’m not breaking rules. I’ve been kicked out of a couple parks in recent months and we were shooting some videos and yeah, let’s move on to the next questions!

KS: It’s from Nganeshan, N-G-A-N-E-S-H-A-N, “What’s the scoop on Air Map? Seems to be gaining steam as a drone traffic management platform.” April?

They’re a really interesting company. So what Air Map is, they’re a kind of platform for drones. They have an app where you can share where your drone is flying and your flight path, and you can see other drones that have opted to share. It also shows you where there’s airspace you’re supposed to stay out of. It’s kind of a precursor to what might turn into an air traffic control system.

We see Air Map’s technology already in something like over 70 percent of the drones on the market right now in terms of they are compatible with Air Map’s mapping system and you can log your flight and stuff like that. And they’re definitely inching in as a leader in terms of providing platform management services for drones.

LG: Interesting. So the air traffic control towers would have to be using this software and it would have to be somehow either on the mobile device or device that’s controlling the drone or in the drone itself in order for it to be a sort of integrated system.

Over a hundred airports right now already use Air Map’s tech. It’s not integrated with a current air traffic control system, but they’ll have a screen off to the side that shows where there would be drones in the vicinity because air traffic control wants to know where those are in the vicinity as well. Even if they’re not supposed to be flying anywhere near, they still want to have that kind of mapping platform. So we’re already seeing it in use in airports.

LG: And a lot of smaller airports still use analog blocks to see what small planes are coming in and out, right? It’s kind of crazy. They write down on these chips and then they move them across boards and it’s just so analog compared to what you might think a control system would be.

Yeah, a lot of air traffic control now is done over the phone a little bit. I mean, of course there’s radar and you know they can see where planes are coming, but they call in and say they’re coming and they schedule times to leave, right? And if we are going to see a more integrated and advanced system that makes use of a broader spectrum of the air space — which really could change delivery and the way we receive goods in the United States, and of course around the world — then we’re going to have to see more precise analytics, more precise data about all the different crafts that are in the air.

LG: Okay. The next question is from Mata Yusef, he’s @MYusef3 on Twitter. “What is the best drone for beginners while maximizing video quality?”

You know, the best beginner drones … I would have to say probably the most popular is the DJI Phantom 4, but I think we’re really going to see the best video-quality drones come out in the next month in gearing up for the holiday season. GoPro does make a good camera, and their drone has that camera. The new Mavic from DJI is also fantastic camera tech. And you know, we’re looking at the $800 to $1000 range of these devices. So it’s expensive technology for sure.

LG: It seems like there’s a gap there. You can buy these little jumping drones that don’t have video equipment like Parrot or whatever it is, and you can get it for a couple hundred bucks. And then there’s this gap. And then in order to get super-high video quality, you’re still getting into that several hundred dollars or more range.

Yeah, because the drone has to be strong enough to hold a camera attachment, right? Now, we just learned that the makers of WeChat in China, not in the U.S. though, will be releasing a drone that’s really just for social media streaming. And that’s priced below $400. So significantly cheaper.

LG: Oh wow. That’s Kara’s next job.

KS: Cannot be recorded, how sad. All right, next question. Michael Weems, @Weems. “I know it’s mostly consumer drones, but is there anything tech folks can or should do to oppose drone attacks that kill innocent people?” This has been in the news a little bit, that ISIS was using them. And obviously it makes sense. You could send a drone bomb into somewhere pretty easily. And obviously drones, the U.S. government uses them and others in their warfare. So where is that going? Because you know, you see it on, I don’t know if you watch “Homeland” or anything else, they’re always taking a drone and killing someone.

This is a great question. It’s going to pose a big challenge to local law enforcement once drones can start to fly over populated areas, over stadiums. Because who knows what they can have attached to them, right? There has been an investment amongst local law enforcement officials of buying drone-snatching technology or signal jamming, things that can take a drone out in different ways.

But if people want to get involved in these discussions, the best thing to do is probably get involved in the FAA rulemaking process. It’s a public notice and comment process where anybody can submit a comment to the FAA. They’re going to be opening up another rulemaking around flying over populated areas at the end of the year, and you should definitely be engaged in this discussion, because they’re your laws that you have to follow and of course they also affect our safety.

LG: As with any advances in technology, there’s going to be good use cases and there are going to be some bad use cases, and you have to do everything you can to try to prevent the bad actors from doing what they do.

Yeah, I mean people use cellphones to make drug deals, and it’s really important not to malign cars because they use them for all kinds of reasons that you know aren’t just going to the grocery store.

LG: Absolutely. The next question is from @JoseAllenML, “Is there a drone you can use in real time with a VR headset while you fly?” [laughs] I’m like, do we really need that much technology on our faces and around us? And Kara’s like, “Oh that’s a good one.” I think I know what I’m getting you for Christmas.

[laughs] So there are headsets that you can use to see what your drone sees while it’s flying if you don’t want to, say, look at a screen in your hand.

LG: Who makes those?

DJI makes one, YunTech makes one, I’m sure there are a few others. I don’t know if I would call them VR but they’re strapped to your face and you can see what the drone is seeing. But you know, if that’s what you want to use, I think to me it sounds a bit more exciting to see the drone and what you’re seeing from the drone on your screen at the same time. Especially because you’re really supposed to be monitoring the drone, you know, and looking at it.

LG: You think it’s better to see the drone itself, you’re saying, rather than the bird’s-eye view.

Yeah, because there’s other things, like behind the drone or the left or right. I know as somebody who’s walking around in the world, I would feel safer.

LG: Yeah, and that way when you crash into the tree eventually with your $1000 drone, you don’t, you know …

You don’t want to be a on a hoverboard with a Samsung Galaxy, for example.

LG: Right [laughs]. Go ahead.

KS: “When will I as a consumer be able to get a tiny drone as my personal autonomous vlog cameraman?” Well you can, right? Is that correct?

LG: Yeah, and the next question is from the same person. “Talking about tiny personal drones, how silent will they get?”

KS: They’ll be like bees. So they have little bee drones, little tiny bee camera drones.

Yeah, you know, that’s the thing. And the point that you bring up, Kara, is that there’s military technology that has far outpaced consumer technology here. And there might already be super-silent drones that I just can’t know about as much as I can know about the ones that are going to be for sale on Amazon.

KS: Disturbing. If regular people got their hands on them, they could fly them into people’s houses and talk about turning on cameras, you know, on people’s computers or phones, they could just fly these little flies into things and take a look.

LG: That’s crazy.

But sound is something that these delivery operations or these wanna-be delivery operations really need to think about, because if these drones are going to be getting near people and dropping goods and however they do it, we don’t want — everybody that orders from Amazon all day — we don’t want to hear them. That’s going to be very loud, potentially. If you’ve heard a drone, if you’ve flown a drone, you know that this isn’t some sound that you can just ignore or necessarily even blast out over your headphones.

LG: In the future I think all of our homes and all of our buildings are going to have little baby heliports for drones. So like in this building we’re in now, our work building, there’s going to be a little drone heliport and then when a package gets delivered, instead of it being a FedEx delivery person coming up the elevator, we’re going to have to go to the roof and get our brown box packages at the drone heliport.

I think that is probably likely and maybe even the safest. We might even have, instead of the drone landing, it might be more of a parachute system. Drones might not even necessarily land except for in one place where they take off. And instead they just lower and drop the package, which is a lot safer actually then landing around people.

That’s what you were mentioning, the Rwanda case with the blood delivery. These drones in Rwanda are not landing at clinics. They’re actually dropping the delivery in a designated parachute landing space at clinics.

LG: Fascinating. Next question is the last question, which is from @JPBalahadia. “What is the drone resale market like for people that buy and don’t use? Is there a second market?”

So Lauren, you were saying you have a drone in your apartment that you’re not using.

LG: Yeah, it is on loan so I will not be reselling it. 3DR, I need to get it back to you, FYI.

My sense is that there are a lot of people with drones in their garages that they’ve used once or twice. And people can certainly buy them used online just like Craigslist, or there’s small websites where people post them, just like any other product.

But the thing is that if you’re going to buy this drone, you have to register it under your name with your address. That way if there is a problem, if you do fly into air space that you’re not supposed to, the FAA can contact you and fine you. And you also have to then, if you’re going to use it for professional reasons, of course get that license.

LG: Right. Which is why I have not flown it, FAA.

KS: Is that it?

LG: Just an FYI. It’s just sitting there.

KS: You need to take a lesson, Lauren. [AG laughs]

LG: I do. I work with people that know [how]. Vjeran is fantastic at flying his drone and I just need to hang out with Vjeran more, I think.

KS: I have no interest in flying any drones.

LG: Except for your personal drone which is going to follow you around.

KS: Bee. I want it to be as big as a bee and it needs to just be right behind me and then it’ll be great.

LG: We’re going to do like “E! True Hollywood Story” with Kara, shot entirely by drones, by personal drones following her around.

KS: “Now Kara eats turkey jerky and watches television.”

So even for people that aren’t interested in flying a drone themselves, this is going to affect your life if they start to deliver things. And so I’m not a drone hobbyist necessarily, but I’m fascinated by the technology because of the potential that it has to really upend the way we receive goods.

KS: Between this and self-driving cars, we’re not going to have to move anywhere. We’re just going to get fat and stupid and sit on our couch while things are dropped into our lap or delivered up to us by robots, correct April? Is that the outlook we have?

I think the idea is to make things as convenient as possible, for us to buy as much as possible. And so … [laughs]

LG: Yeah, it’s all about buying. No, but think about the environmental impact, too.

That’s a big deal.

LG: I mean, taking lots of cars off the road.

KS: The pictures are pretty. The pictures are pretty for sure.

But we’re getting closer to the Jetsons.

KS: April, I want you to do a story about where we are on jet packs right now, if you could. [AG laughs] Because I could be a drone, you see, I could turn myself into a drone. [laughter] Anyway, on that note, April, thanks so much for joining us. This has been another great episode of Too Embarrassed to Ask.

LG: Yes, thank you, April.

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