Okay so I just filed my tax return and I have my heart set on what I’m going to spend it on: baby, I’m getting a drone.
Here are a few things I know about drones:
- Drones are the colloquial term for any unmanned aerial vehicle, or UAV.
- Besides killing suspected terrorists and unarmed innocent people who happen to live in bad neighborhoods, drones are also a popular device for spying on people
- Amazon said they could deliver packages with drones, and I’m very onboard with that
- One time, in 2002, an Iraqi drone fought an American drone in the skies above Iraq. It was the first ever drone-on-drone combat. The Iraqi drone won.
- “Drone” is a fun word to say. Drone, drone, drone, drone. If you wanted to drone on about drones to me, I’d say drone on, brother, drone on.
- Although you can’t buy a military-grade predator drone that could murder people or your neighbor’s dog, you can buy a very affordable drone and there are some solid options.
It wasn’t so long ago that UAVs weren’t an exciting prospect for consumers. Before the drone branding, consumer UAVs were mostly in the Remote Control Airplane category — the province of dorky dads, divorced dads, and all other men who wear socks with their sandals. They’d cry: “Hey kids, come out and see this new hobby plane I bought!” But the kids weren’t as impressed. All it seemed to do was fly loudly for a minute before getting caught in a tree. Dad was just embarrassing himself. And so the spoiled children went back inside to their Playstations, burn books, and so on, while the dad kept flying the airplane in circles and into trees. Eventually, less and less dads subjected themselves to this kind of humiliation.
Then one day everything changed. The news was awash with tales of unmanned aircraft being a major military asset. It was like the RC plane but with a coat of badass paint and heat-seeking missile capabilities. For the beta male, it was like when comic books became graphic novels, or dolls became action figures, but it was better because drones kill people. So owning something within the same category as a killer means you must be tough. I don’t know why Ray Lewis doesn’t get more endorsement deals, frankly.
Anyway, so I want to buy a drone.
What do I want to use a drone for? Well, I haven’t decided yet but it does seem like ruining people’s privacy is a good thing to use these for. Thankfully, the law is on my side. People in the US have very few legal privacy protections from drone surveillance. The US Supreme Court ruled as such in Florida v. Riley that individuals (aka the weakest corporations) don’t have the right to privacy if a drone is recording you. Sorry, everyone.
Here are some of the top drones I’ve got my eye on:
Parrot AR Drone 2.0: $300
Parrot is one of the top brands in consumer drones, and the Parrot AR is the most popular drone available. It’s easy to see why, with Wi- FI and a built-in camera with 720HD video. Plus, the Parrot can fly for 20 minutes without needing to come down. If I had this drone, I would dress this drone in a bird costume and make it sneak up behind my girlfriend’s cats and then fly away once discovered. Then it would come back and scoop up the cats and fly them around the apartment until my girlfriend told me to stop. There are probably better uses for it too.
DJI Phantom GPS Drone: $700
DJI’s Phantom is right there with the Parrot drone in terms of brand popularity for drones. This guy boasts a built-in camera mount; a 300-meter range with radio-frequency control; it can fly on autopilot and can be programmed to return home automatically. This is a pretty cool drone. If I had this drone, I would quit my job and drop out of society and just live off the good vibes produced by this drone. Thankfully I probably won’t buy this drone.
4-Channel Predator/Reaper-Style UAV Plane: $350
This drone is styled after the U.S. military’s Predator drone, which is pretty cool. The replica can fly for about 20 minutes and has a 5-foot wingspan. No word on whether or not it can devastate a defenseless village or avoid getting caught in trees.
Extreme Fliers Micro Drone: $107
Aw, yeah. This is what I’m talking about: an affordable drone for the person who isn’t quite sure they want to be dropping hundreds of dollars on a toy plane. The Extreme Fliers Micro Drone is still robust in its offerings with four rotors and an automatic gyro control that allows it to zip safely around small spaces without bumping into things. It can also do 360-degree flips. If I had this drone, I would name it Mr. Droney and he would share all of my secrets.
Trimble Gatewing X100: $40,000
This is one of the most expensive drones available for purchase that I could find at $40,000. Apparently it’s mostly professional photographers who use it, but if I had it, I would use it to constantly fly around my head like I was wearing a drone crown because I am the King of Drones. That would be due to the high-tech mapping capabilities that can produce quick accurate maps and understand the space its in. It’s also able to withstand tough weather like rain and snow. Best of all, it can stay in the air for 45 minutes before needing a recharge. Another thing I’d like to do with this drone is find a drone priest who would marry us.
Grant Pardee is a comedian originally from Ohio living in Los Angeles. He has performed at Bridgetown and SF Sketchfest, the Improv, Upright Citizens Brigade, and many other places, too. He contributes articles to VICE, and in 2013 the webseries he created, wrote and produced “Happy Place” was a finalist for the Comedy Central Short Pilot Competition at the New York Television Festival. Follow him on twitter @grantpa