Quadrotor drones are doing a lot these days: they’re helping to save the elephants, rescue drowning victims and even deliver beer to concertgoers. While these important duties naturally suggest a certain level of independence, the drones aren’t entirely autonomous because they still require human pilots to control their maneuvers.
Sameer Parekh, who recently launched an autonomous flying robot company called Falkor Systems, wants to change that. With his Pet AR.Drone prototype, Parekh has proposed a quadrotor drone that uses artificially intelligent algorithms and depth motion-tracking cameras to follow a person from a safe distance and/or film the encounter. One method for doing so would involve the drone tracking a specific graphic on a user’s t-shirt.
In the following PopSci YouTube video, Parekh says one of Pet Drone’s main applications could be for BASE jumpers and other extreme athletes who want to film stunts that are out of range of human controlled drones. But that’s not all.
“We’re planning on having a consumer product sometime in the near future,” Parekh explained in the video. “Everyone will have a pet robot just following them around or used as a little pet butler, taking a picture, tweeting pictures of you and your friends on your behalf.”
He added: “There’s also personal safety applications, ya know, if you’re walking down the street and need to call for assistance, you have this flying robot with you that can pay attention to what’s going on. It can help you out in case you’re getting mugged. We wouldn’t want to build it to actually attack people, but it could call the police or something like that.”
While it’s very easy to see the benevolent applications of the Pet Drone, it’s just as easy to imagine its potential for malevolence, especially when any type of “following” is involved. All dystopian visions aside, let’s assume the Pet Drone will be a helpful, well-intentioned addition to the future and that it will, in the very least, bless us all with even more wicked awesome videos of daredevils jumping off skyscrapers.
Credit: YouTube screen grab, Falkor Systems