News / USA

Immigrant Business Flying High with Airborne Drones

Immigrant Flying High With Drone Businessi
X
March 19, 2013 11:15 PM
For a young Mexican immigrant, a hobby building toy helicopters has grown into a multimillion dollar business. As VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from San Diego, California, the immigrant and his company are flying high with airborne drones and operations on both sides of the border.
Mike O'Sullivan
For a young Mexican immigrant, a hobby building toy helicopters has grown into a multi-million-dollar business.  The immigrant and his company are flying high with airborne drones.

It began with a remote-controlled helicopter that Jordi Munoz got as a gift from his mother.  Munoz, who is now 26, used a game controller and a component he bought online to modify the toy, five years ago.

“It did not work, the first version, but that is the beginning of everything," said Munoz.

As he stabilized and improved the toy aircraft, Munoz built an online following of hobbyists through a blog.  With money borrowed from a friend, editor-in-chief of Wired Magazine Chris Anderson, Munoz bought the parts to build more drones and advertised online.

“And then I sold them in one day," he said. "So I multiplied the money by a factor of four in 24 hours.”

With his friend Anderson, Munoz founded the company 3D Robotics.  Anderson left his journalism job to become the company's chief executive.

3D Robotics manufacturers its own computer chips, the brain of the devices, and sells to hobbyists and businesses worldwide.  The drones cost just a fraction of the price of military versions, selling for hundreds - not thousands - of dollars.

The company employs 30 workers in the United States and 25 across the Mexican border in Tijuana, and the Tijuana plant is being expanded.  

As privately-owned drones have become more popular, some are raising concerns about privacy issues.  Yet with demand increasing, Munoz says he wants to build his business along the U.S.-Mexico border, instead of manufacturing more cheaply in Asia.

“It is better if we keep the money on this side of the continent, rather than sending money to China and manufacture over there," he said.

Munoz says the drones can used be used for security, research and other serious applications, or flown by hobbyists just for fun, and that his company has helped create a market for this new technology.

You May Like

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More