Tag Archives: Drones

Mercedes-Benz Launches Van-Based Drone Delivery Pilot Program

Turns out Amazon and UPS aren’t the only companies interested in drone delivery. Mercedes-Benz is teaming with U.S. drone systems developer Matternet and Swiss online retail firm Siroop for a drone delivery pilot program in Zurich, Switzerland.

The program, which started September 25, uses drones working in concert with modified delivery vans. Over the course of the three-week pilot program, Siroop customers will be able to order certain items (there’s a 4.4-pound weight limit) for drone delivery. Drone flights will take place seven hours a day, five days a week, but only in favorable weather conditions.

The drones won’t deliver packages directly to customers. They’ll pick the items up and fly to one of two Mercedes-Benz Vito (a.k.a. Metris) vans, which will stop at four “rendezvous points” around Zurich. There, drones will drop off their packages and the vans will deliver them to the customers. The entire process will be timed and compared to conventional delivery methods, a Mercedes press release said.

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Mercedes believes using a van, rather than a drone, for the last leg of the delivery has certain advantages. For one, the customer’s experience doesn’t change: They’ll still be greeted at the door by a delivery person, not a drone. Landing the Matternet M2 drones on the roofs of vans also keeps them high off the ground, Mercedes notes, potentially decreasing the risks to nearby pedestrians.

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The combination of vans and drones isn’t a new idea. Workhorse has tested drone delivery in concert with UPS. Some of the company’s Horsefly dronesmay even get into the field in time for the busy Christmas shopping season. However, Workhorse wants to use drones for the final leg of deliveries, which is the opposite of Mercedes’s concept. Amazon also seems to want to use drones for that so-called “last mile” of deliveries.

If the Swiss pilot program goes well, Mercedes will push for greater integration of drones into deliver services. The automaker believes drones could rendezvous with delivery vehicles on their regular routes, adding urgent shipments at the last minute. For that to happen, though, Mercedes and other drone proponents will have to prove to regulators and the public that swarms of drones don’t pose a safety hazard.



California bans drones from delivering marijuana

Drones delivering hamburgers, beer, and Amazon products might be right around the corner, but don’t get your hopes up if you want your weed sent to you via robot. That’s because California’s Bureau of Cannabis Control has recently unveiled new regulatory rules that will ban drones from delivering marijuana, as spotted by Ars Technica. The Bureau is currently developing regulation surrounding weed use and sales under the Medicinal and Adult-Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (MAUCRSA) after recreational marijuana was legalized in California.

“Cannabis goods will be required to be transported inside commercial vehicles or trailers,” the proposed program description reads. “Transportation may not be done by aircraft, watercraft, rail, drones, human powered vehicles, or unmanned vehicles.” That means a host of start-ups promising to deliver marijuana by drone like MDelivers and Eaze might see that part of their business left in the lurch. Under the rules, deliveries can only be made by licensed retailers, “in person by enclosed motor vehicle,” and the vehicles used for deliveries must have a GPS that allows the seller to track the package. The Bureau also specifically states that those delivering the cannabis aren’t allowed to consume the substance while out on the delivery.

California is the largest economy in the US and the legal marijuana industry could be worth $5 billion to the state. Licenses for cannabis distributors, retailers, testing labs, and other businesses will be issued beginning January 1, 2018.



Red Cross to start testing drones in disaster relief efforts

The American Red has teamed up with the UPS Foundation and drone manufacturer CyPhy Works to bring drones to sites of natural disasters. The goal is to use drones tethered to the ground to assess damages through constant aerial observations. This is where CyPhy Works comes in.

The pilot program utilizes CyPhy Works’ Persistent Aerial Reconnaissance and Communications (PARC) platform. In this test the platform will provide constant power to a drone flying stationary at 400ft through the use of a tether. Since the drone is tied to the ground, constant power can be provided from a ground-based generator thus providing uninterrupted surveillance for days or weeks at a time. A 30X zoom camera will then be used to surveil tens of miles around the drone and would be able to assess the impact of a disaster to best direct relief efforts and later to accelerate insurance payout.

The parties involved agreed to launch a one week, onsite trial in an area heavily flooded by Hurricane Harvey. If successful, it could be used again following Hurricane Irma.


The Boston-based CyPhy Works has been testing this tethered platform in different scenarios. During Forth of July fireworks and the Boston Marathon, CyPhy works provided hours of aerial surveillance to the Boston Police Department. The test with the Red Cross takes CyPhy Works out of Boston and potentially in locations without a power grid or general utilities.


Red Cross to start testing drones in disaster relief efforts

Israeli Drone Maker Airobotics Raises $32.5 Million in Private Funds

Israel’s Airobotics, a maker of automated industrial drones, said on Thursday it raised $32.5 million in a private funding round led by BlueRun Ventures China, Microsoft Ventures and OurCrowd.com.

It also received funding from existing investors including, CRV, BRV, Waze CEO Noam Bardin, Richard Wooldridge, and David Roux, the co-founder and former chairman of Silver Lake Partners.

Airobotics said the funds will meet growing demand in the mining and homeland security industries and go towards investing in its business development efforts and expansion across industrial facilities.

It added that it is creating a new division of Homeland Security and Defense, as well as an initiative to use fully automated drones to perform emergency tasks in cities.

Airobotics is the first company in the world to be granted authorization to fly fully automated drones without a pilot, as licensed by the Civil Aviation Authority of Israel (CAAI), which positions the company as a world-leader in the field of automated drones.



Why Hurricane Harvey’s Destruction Has Unleashed an Army of Drones

Drones will be flying over Texas and Louisiana to help survey property damage by Hurricane Harvey. 


The top two property insurance companies in Texas — State Farm and Allstate (ALL)  — will be using the portable aircraft to take pictures of the damage done by the hurricane that has damaged an estimated 100,000 homes in Texas and Louisiana, according to the White House. Allstate said it’s expecting to make at least a thousand drone flights a week to assess the damage. While a person doing insurance survey work could do about three houses per day, a drone can get through about three houses per hour. 


In addition, AT&T (T)  announced Wednesday that it will use a fleet of 25 drones to survey cell phone towers for antenna or cable damage in southeastern Texas. 


This is an important test for drones because it’s the second big hurricane since the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) relaxed its rules for drones, allowing insurance companies to fly them over houses to survey property damage. THe other major hurricane was Hurricane Matthew, which ripped through the eastern Caribbean and the southeastern U.S. last September and into early October. 


The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) said that nearly 96,000 people in Texas are eligible and have been approved for financial aid to help with damages. Hurricane Harvey is expected to hit $30 billion in damages, analytics firm Enki Holdings told Slate. 


The drone sector growth forecast has been positive, according to experts. Worldwide drone unit sales grew by an estimated 60% last year, to 2.2 million units, which represents $4.5 billion in sales, according to research firm Gartner. For 2017, the firm sees drone production increasing by 39% year-over-year, to 3 million drones and $6 billion in sales. By 2020, sales are projected to hit $11.2 billion. 


The third top property insurer in Texas, Farmers Insurance, has already received more than 14,000 claims reports, a spokesperson told the New York Times on Wednesday. “Our fleet of drones and the claims professionals who will be operating them are currently on standby and ready to deploy when conditions make it safe to do so,” the company said in a statement. 



Drone food delivery service is off the ground in Iceland

Starting this week, you can get your takeout meals delivered by drone — if you live in Reykjavik, that is.

The first drone-based food delivery network to serve a city took flight Wednesday in Iceland’s capital, promising to slash wait times for hungry customers by flying orders directly over an ocean inlet at the town’s center.

“Reykjavik’s unusual topography makes for circuitous routes and lots of traffic jams,” Yariv Bash, CEO of Tel Aviv-based drone supplier Flytrex, told The Post. “We’re offering the ultimate solution for delivery.”

Working in partnership with AHA — an Iceland-based, Grubhub-like online platform for restaurants and retailers — Flytrex expects its drones will cut a full 20 minutes off delivery times for takeout that’s shipped between Reykjavik’s two parts, which are separated by a large bay.

For now, the network is limited to a single route going over the bay. An AHA worker launches the takeout order at a drone hub nearer the restaurant, while another removes it at a second hub nearer the customer.

A second worker then walks or bikes the delivery to its final destination.

Next year, though, Bash said AHA customers will receive their orders from drones outfitted with wires that lower deliveries into their backyards.

Already, Flytrex says a takeout order that used to arrive after a 25-minute car ride can show up in four minutes by one of its drones.

“If you can take off 15 minutes on every delivery, you’ll take the market,” Bash said.
Flytrex’s network, Bash added, cuts the cost of a delivery by 60 percent while simultaneously easing the city’s traffic jams.

As the pilot program’s “Sushi in the Skies of Iceland” tagline suggests, the immediate emphasis is on food. But the partnership with AHA, Iceland’s largest online marketplace, aims to expand more broadly into consumer goods.

Amazon gets credit for the first commercial drone delivery — a TV-streaming stick and a bag of popcorn to a customer in Cambridge, England — in December 2016.

To Bash, though, the Amazon delivery was an isolated incident in a rural area and moved goods less than half a mile.

Bash, who admitted winning regulatory approval in Iceland was “a meticulous process,” believes authorities elsewhere are warming to drone deliveries.

“Once you demonstrate your system is safe — that you’re not using play toys on steroids, they’re happy to work with you,” he said.



Tanzania Gears Up To Become A Nation Of Medical Drones

Eight-year-old boy bitten by dog. Two-year-old child with severe anemia. Mother, age 24, bleeding severely at childbirth.

Entries like these popped up as Keller Rinaudo browsed a database of health emergencies during a 2014 visit to Tanzania. It was “a lightbulb moment,” says the CEO and co-founder of the California drone startup Zipline.

Rinaudo was visiting a scientist at Ifakara Health Institute who had created the database to track nationwide medical emergencies. Using cell phones, health workers would send a text message whenever a patient needed blood or other critical supplies. Trouble is, while the system collected real-time information about dying patients, the east African country’s rough terrain and poor supply chain often kept them from getting timely help. “We were essentially looking at a database of death,” Rinaudo says.

That Tanzania trip motivated his company to spend the next three years building what they envisioned as “the other half of that system — where you know a patient is having a medical emergency and can immediately send the product needed to save that person’s life,” Rinaudo says.

Today the story comes full circle as Tanzania’s government makes a special announcement: In early 2018 the nation will start using Zipline drones for on-demand delivery of blood, vaccines, medications and other supplies such as sutures and IV tubes.

Last fall, Zipline deployed 15 drones serving 21 clinics from a single base in a smaller neighboring country, Rwanda. The delivery operation planned for Tanzania would be the world’s largest — 120 drones at four bases serving more than 10 million people at 1,000 clinics across the country. Zipline’s 30-pound electric drones fly 68 mph to health centers up to 50 miles away. The drone service costs about the same amount as delivery using traditional road vehicles, says Rinaudo, a Harvard graduate who built DNA computers inside human cells and constructed a rock-climbing wall in a dorm basement before setting his focus on drones.

Tanzania’s drone delivery service, in partnership with the country’s ministry of health, is set to launch in its capital city, Dodoma, in January. Three more distribution centers will be added in the country’s northwestern corner and Southern Highlands later in the year.

Other countries, even the U.S., are taking note. In addition to its Africa initiatives, Zipline is trying to bring drone delivery service to rural U.S. communities and Native American reservations.

“Most people think of new, advanced technology starting in the U.S. and trickling down to Africa,” he says. “This is a total overturning of that paradigm.”



Amazon’s Delivery Drones Could Scan Your House to Sell You More Products

Amazon’s ambitions to build a fleet of self-flying delivery drones will have an interesting side-effect: They will create unimaginable quantities of data.

Aerial footage, mapping data, flight patterns, number-crunching analysis, and more — autonomous vehicles produce vast reams of data, and drones are no different. And Amazon is already thinking about how it can turn that to its advantage.

In a filing for a patent granted on Tuesday, the Seattle-based online retail giant lays out how “captured data may be received by a computer system and properties about a destination for the delivery may be identified by analyzing the data. A recommendation may be generated based at least in part on the identified properties.”

In plain English? Amazon’s drones could analyse customers’ homes as they make deliveries, and then try and sell them products and services based on what they “see.”

One example Amazon gives is that it could recommend a roof-repair service if a customer’s roof looks faulty:

“For example, the one or more service provider computers may analyze the data and identify that the roof of the location is in disrepair and in need of service. Subsequently, the one or more service provider computers may generate and provide a recommendation to the customer informing them of the identified property and offering an item or service that is appropriate for the identified property (e.g., a roof repair service recommendation).”

In another, it suggests it could recognise if a customers’ trees are dying, and then recommend them an arborist or fertiliser:

“The unmanned aerial vehicle may capture video data that includes brown and dying trees located near the user’s home. The service provider computers may utilize image and/or video recognition techniques and software to identify that the trees require service (e.g., services that can be provided by an arborist). The service provider computers may, in response to identifying that the trees near the user’s home are dying, generate and provide a recommendation to the user that includes information about arborist services or items such as fertilizers that can help the user’s trees.”

These recommendations — or adverts, depending on how you look at them — could be delivered by email, text message, or a notification on Amazon, the patent suggests.

There are clear privacy concerns about Amazon analyzing your backyard for potential retail opportunities — though the patent suggests it would be opt-in, and only capture and analyse this data with the consent of the customer. “It may capture data such as video data or audio data as requested by the property owner associated with the delivery location,” it says.

Amazon’s plans for drone deliveries are still a long way from commercial reality. It is testing the tech in the UK, and has conducted some very early trials, but it will be years until ordinary people can order a product and get it delivered by drone.

But the patent serves as a reminder that convenience sometimes comes at the expense of privacy, and drone-powered future may offer unprecedented opportunities for surveillance.




Intel is getting ready to make 300 drones dance together in the night sky

On Wednesday evening, the sky above downtown Singapore will light up with 300 drones moving in formation.

The futuristic light show is planned to be the highlight of the country’s 52nd birthday celebration National Day Parade.

The LED-lit drones are coordinated to produce animation sequences in the sky, flying up to create sparkly logos and images like the Singapore map.

The parade’s organisers have tapped Intel to provide the segment. It’s so important that the high-profile event goes well, that Intel’s global drone chief, Anil Nanduri, is flying in to make sure that it all takes off.

Speaking to Mashable on the eve of his flight here, Nanduri explained that Intel’s New Technology Group has come a long way in improving its light show drone system, named Shooting Star.

“There’s considerably more operational complexity in handling a 300 drone fleet, compared with 100 drones in a show,” he said.

The drones are flying closer to each other, and need to be automated to know their place in relation to the other, for instance. And to make it possible for the drones to take off with one pilot controlling them, the system needs to be precise enough to control such a large swarm across a bigger expanse of airspace.

“It’s like juggling balls in your hand,” he explained. “You may be able to juggle three, but if you juggle nine, you may have to throw them higher and faster to get more time,” while being more precise in how you throw the next one.

It isn’t Intel’s first time at creating a 300 drone show. It just did that at Coachella this year.

And late last year, the team celebrated setting a Guinness World Record with a 500 drone spectacle in Germany.



How to start a drone business: Plans and Opportunities

Some trends have the capacity of turning into mega trends and bringing about a dramatic shift in the economy as we know it. UAVs have managed to do that in a rather short period of time.

From being considered as mere “toys of the hobbyists”, “flying cameras of the rich,” or the “clandestine military operative machines”, drones have further penetrated vast areas of our economy and are starting to become a major part of our everyday lives. Unimaginable uses of drones are coming to life every single day and their evolution is only going to surge with time.

Business tech buffs globally are trying to get a slice of this rapidly growing trend’s pie. The drone business opportunity market is posed to grow 190% from 2014 to 2024, according to The Drone Co.

For a budding entrepreneur, owning a drone in this day and age is a latent business opportunity just waiting to be explored and exploited. For opportunistic businesspeople, drones have multiple uses and can be explored and utilized in a variety of ways. 

Before getting started with a drone-related business, it is fundamental to check local regulations on the commercial use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). Some countries already have introduced strict regulations that limit the use of drones. 

How to Get Started with a Drone Business

Before you decide to take the plunge into the intriguing world of drones and the business opportunities ascribed with them, the very first steps are to enroll in an FAA-approved aeronautical training program to get a Remote Pilot Certificate, which is a pre-requisite to be able to commercially conduct a full-fledged drone business. You can enroll in the Drone Pilot Ground School, which helps fledgling drone pilots get the appropriate test prep for the FAA Aeronautical Knowledge Test.

UAV Coach also offers a step-by-step guide to FAA Part 107 for U.S. Commercial Drone Pilots to score a drone certification process that covers all the new regulations implemented by the FAA. 

Drone Business Opportunities 

Considered the best business to start in 2017, some of the upcoming potential business opportunities with drones are listed below:

One-man Aerial Film Unit (Filmmaking)

With basic knowledge of operating video cameras and piloting drones, people can produce in-house documentaries, short films, video snippets and montages that would otherwise require helicopters to shoot. Moreover, drones are cheaper, more maneuverable, and safer than helicopters.

Individuals and large enterprise consumers can also pursue a wedding and special events photography business with drones. Owning a drone can be the ultimate start to a freelance business of commercial photography and videography, which could prove to be a secondary or even a primary source of income.



Mastering Drones: A Beginner’s Guide To Start Making Money With Drones

The information below is the reason I wrote this book, drones will be commercialized in the future surrounding the year 2025 according to research I’ve seen. Now is the time as an entrepreneur for making money with drones. 

Commercial drones and their services are expected to become a multibillion-dollar industry in the next decade, according to a new report from market intelligence firm Tractica. The report says that in 2017, drone revenue should amount to $792 million — mostly from hardware sales. By 2025, Tractica predicts the market will rise to $12.6 billion, with two-thirds of the revenue coming from drone-based services rather than hardware. “A number of major industries are seeing strong value propositions in utilizing drones for commercial use,” says Tractica research analyst Manoj Sahi. He named media, real estate and disaster relief as just a few of the industries that could use drone-enabled services. The report says that advances in technology, economies of scale, cloud-based applications and the drive to disrupt the market will contribute to commercial drone success in the coming years.

Via GeekWire


Airbus Launches Commercial Drone Services

Airbus is known for its commercial aircraft, and perhaps best for its A380 airliner that holds the title for the world’s largest passenger jet. At the 2017 Paris Air Show alone it secured $39.7 billion worth of new business. Now Airbus looks to expand its portfolio to include UAS services.

In May, Airbus announced its commercial drone service startup Aerial, which aims to bring aerospace engineering, satellite imagery and drone services together under one roof. Its targeted industries will include agriculture, infrastructure, energy and more.

“It will have a U.S. operation and a European operation. The objective of the business is not to build and sell drones — people are doing that already — but to capture all the available opportunities for aerial observation,” Barry Eccleston, President and CEO of Airbus Americas, said. “We want to capture the [aerial] data and offer the data as a service. We’re using [drones] right now to inspect airplanes. We send a drone up to inspect the tail of an airplane instead of using a big cherry picker. Our objective is to offer this on a global scale.

“We want to step up the level of service that is offered,” Eccleston continued. “A lot of people have a drone and can go out and take pictures. OK, fine. But we can offer a whole series of services from macro to micro, to data analysis. There’s going to be a lot of consolidation in this industry. We saw this opportunity to be one of those consolidators.”

While Aerial will be looking to consolidate this area of the industry, Airbus believe there will always be room for local operators and contracted work.

“For the services we don’t already have we’re contracting it out,” Eccleston explained. “Over time we want to develop longer term partnerships or even acquisitions of companies and bring that service in house. There will always be areas of the value chain where we will always contract out to local basis.”

Currently, Aerial is conducting proof-of-concept in insurance, manufacturing and public utilities markets. So far 15 engineers and UAV developers have been hired to join its Atlanta-based office.



Mastering Drones by Adidas Wilson on Amazon and ITunes

MIT is building autonomous drones that can both drive and fly

Researchers from MIT on Monday shared a new prototype for a system of wheeled, autonomous drones that can switch between flying and driving.


The drones, which were built at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, also include route-planning software that can help calculate when the flying robot switches from air to ground in order to optimize its battery life.

The project foreshadows a future where autonomous transportation may one day be able to both sail above traffic but also navigate roads in dense urban environments.

“Normal drones can’t maneuver on the ground at all. A drone with wheels is much more mobile while having only a slight reduction in flying time,” said MIT graduate student Brandon Araki, who is a lead author on a paper about the new research, in a statement.


A drone that drives on the ground when appropriate could actually prove more efficient overall. It can save time by flying instead of being stuck in traffic, and also save its battery life by traveling on the ground when the vehicle doesn’t need to fly to reach its destination.

To test out the new system, researchers built a small model of a city block, with buildings, parking spots, roadways and landing pads, along with eight small drones with wheels.

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The dream of autonomous flying cars (or autonomous driving drones) isn’t limited to MIT. Companies like Uber and Kitty Hawk, which counts Google co-founder Larry Page as an investor, are working to make flying cars a reality one day. In April, Uber said it hopes to bring flying cars to U.S. airspace by 2020.


But as this new research from MIT demonstrates, the future of autonomous transportation might be less about attaching wings to a car and more about adding wheels to a drone.



Amazon’s vision for the future: delivery drone beehives in every city

Amazon’s drone delivery program stopped being a joke a while ago, but the company still has to overcome serious challenges to make the technology actually work. One of these is getting drones near enough to large populations so they’re more efficient than regular road delivery. Amazon has an idea for that though: Huge. Drone. Beehives.


In a patent application published yesterday, Amazon described how “multi-level fulfillment centers for unmanned aerial vehicles” could help put drones where they’re needed. The application notes that due to “their large footprint,” current warehouses are located “on the outskirts of cities where space is available.” But multi-story drone centers could be built vertically, rather than horizontally, allowing them to be placed within “downtown districts and/or other densely populated urban areas.” And, of course, making them high-rises would let the drones fly in and out without getting dangerously close to pedestrians at street level.

Amazon’s application includes sketches of a number of differently shaped buildings and interior views, showing how human employees would load-up the drones with packages:

But flying large numbers of drones in cities invites other problems too. Who’s going to want to live near a drone delivery tower if it makes so much noise? And what if drones start falling out the sky, making impromptu, and possibly fatal, deliveries? Amazon is obviously thinking hard about these problems, and in the same round of patent applications as the delivery beehive, suggests a few solutions.


For drone noise, the company is suggesting custom rotor designs that would chop through the air more quietly. These include adding “trailing edge fringes,” “leading edge serrations,” “sound dampening treatments,” and “blade indentations for sound control” to rotors, but all focus on the same principle: breaking up the airflow around propellers to try and alter or reduce the sound they make.

The image below shows how “trailing edge fringes” — the tiny plant-like fronds — might be added to the rotor blade. These might make drones quieter, but let’s face it: they’ll also look terrifying.

And the last significant item on Amazon’s patent application list? Drones with multiple sets of rotors and motors, so that if one set fails, the other can take over. It’s a simple idea, but an essential one.


Of course, all these are just applications. It doesn’t mean Amazon is necessarily going to build these things, or that drone deliveries will ever become widespread. What it does show, is that the company is continuing to think hard about the future of deliveries. And who knows? These things always seem silly, right up until the point they’re real.



The future of healthcare: AI, augmented reality and drug-delivering drones

Imagine being paralyzed and having an implanted microchip that could action a message from your brain to move your prosthetic arm. Or a diagnostic system that could pick up Alzheimer’s a decade before you develop any symptoms. Or a 3D printing machine that could print a pill with a combination of drugs tailored just for you.

Sound far-fetched? Then meet Dr Daniel Kraft, a Harvard-trained oncologist-cum-entrepreneur-cum-healthcare futurologist. The faculty chair for medicine and founder of Exponential Medicine at the Silicon Valley-based Singularity University, no one could be more serious – or ambitious – about the revolutionary impact that technology will have on the future of healthcare.

The internet of things, constant connectivity, ever cheaper hardware, big data, machine learning: Kraft’s list of converging “meta-trends” goes on. “This set of technologies, especially when meshed together, offers a real opportunity to reshape and reinvent healthcare around the planet,” he says.

Kraft’s vision is of a patient-centred, tech-led healthcare system (as opposed to “sickcare”, as he defines the current system) that promises to turn the medical world on its head. But what implications does it hold for future business of healthcare?

Big pharma is one of the first in line for a shake-up, Kraft warns. Today drug firms’ profits are based on blockbuster drugs for pervasive diseases. But what if medical science reveals (as it is doing) that there are really hundreds of sub-types of diabetes, say, or lung cancer? And what if a patient’s full genome sequence can show the likelihood of a blockbuster treatment not working?

“There’s a spectrum of diseases with different molecular pathways and pharma is going to have to adapt to smaller markets in terms of individual drugs,” Kraft says.

On the flipside, the prospect of people being able to take part in clinical trials on their smartphones promises to drastically speed up the time drugs can get to market. Prescribing an app along with a pill will also become commonplace, he suggests, enabling patients to keep on track with their medicine and adjust their dosage if required. Both potentially promise big returns for the pharmaceutical industry.

Drug distribution is set for a radical overhaul too. Digital device manufacturers are already experimenting with so-called “implantables” that use bioelectric sensors to track patients’ vital signs and release a drug dose as and when required. At the other end of the spectrum, drones are now being used to deliver drugs to remote areas or disaster zones. Matternet, one of 50 or so start-up firms to have spun out of Singularity University, has been doing exactly that in Haiti recently.

Kraft warns that radical change is afoot for healthcare providers as well. Imagine a scenario where patients can compare the results of different hospitals or even individual doctors? Or where patients don’t need to come to a clinic once a month for an electrocardiogram but instead wear a smart Band-Aid “patch” that sends the same information 24/7 to their doctor’s surgery? Patient power, in other words.