Arg. Got distracted by this. Ok, let me peel back the next layer of the onion. An open drone network can leverage:
a) 3D transportation uses the “big sky theory.” Lots of space. Very few obstacles. Compare that to 2D transpo on the ground — lots of obstacles and limited routes.
b) Ubiquitous navigation. GPS. Easy point point. Also, dirt cheap autopilot software.
c) Relaxed rules. Uncontrolled flight is possible over most of the US (except for cities, which are going to miss out on this, like so many other post-industrial innovations).
d) Dirt cheap drones. $400 for a high quality quad that can carry a kilo for 8-10 miles. This is a big reason why costs are less than $0.25 every ten miles and/or hop.
e) Innovative open source hardware/software community. It’s so big that Chris Anderson left his editor’s job at Wired to jump into the space full time. Tack onto that arduino, makerspaces, etc.
f) Wireless comms. Easy to connect and coordinate both via standard wireless networking and cell phone data networks. This will also make it easy to lay on Internet/Web based services to coordinate the system.
g) Easy mental model for how it can work in a distributed fashion (the Internet/Web). However, that also means that lots of schmucks will try to game it by locking down important design elements (like the way 3D Systems is slowing down 3D printing right now — to the detriment of humanity).