Futurist Thomas Frey Predicts 1 Billion Drones by 2030

Colorado-based futurist Thomas Frey predicted at the 'World of Drones Congress' in Australia that there would be 1 billion drones in the skies by 2030.

Philippe Huguena / AFP / Getty Images

At the inaugural 'World of Drones Congress' in Brisbane, Australia today, US futurist Thomas Frey argued that there will be 1 billion unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in the world by 2030. It's always difficult to know whether to agree or disagree with a futurist who makes bold claims like these, but as people who only see the drone industry grow - day in and day out - we'd have to go with the former.

Let's look at a handful of recent drone news we've reported on, to get a look at this moment in time in the current drone market. Last week, we reported that drone sales will shoot past $1 billion per year in 2017, that the world's first autonomous drone delivery system launched in Iceland, and that Walmart patented blimp-based drone-deploying hubs. Yesterday, we told you about drones delivering Viagra and morning-after pills to citizens of Kent in England. 

It certainly seems like we're on an upward trajectory here. Every week, there seems to be industry-altering news which will be a significant bullet point in the Wikipedia entry of 'drones.' These UAVs are already ubiquitous, and becoming even more so. Suddenly, a billion drones by 2030 doesn't seem as bold a prediction as it initially does.

According to ABCNews, Frey urged his audience at the World of Drones Congress to think outside the box a little more. Imagination and determination are both necessary components to pull a vision into reality, after all. "In the future drones are going to have multiple capabilities, so let's not think of them as little flying cameras," he asked. "They can also roll on the ground, they can stick to the side of a building, float in the river, dive under water…they can climb a tree and attach themselves like a parasite to the side of a plane."

"A driverless car is a drone," he added. It's this last bit that gives Frey a huge amount of leeway, in the predictions department. With that whole industry on his side, regarding the 1 billion mark, it'd be hard not to find people who agree with him. However, as author of "Communicating With The Future" and creator of a list of 192 future uses of drones, Frey has clearly given this topic a significant amount of thought. 

This is a man who sees a future where every city is aided by UAVs, in all sorts of ways we aren't even capable of imagining yet. Sure, we''ll have driverless trucks and cars, commonplace deliveries and autonomous infrastructure inspection and construction, and far more. But Frey believes our drone use will exceed all of that, into all the nooks and crannies of our lives that could benefit. He has a vision of a half-automated reality, which could actually come into being in the next thirteen years, if we only make it so.