Auto-following “drones” won’t revolutionize. Neither will sense and avoid

8 Jan , 2015  

The Verge is reporting from CES about a “drone” company that will soon launch the Airdog: a quadcoper that will automatically follow you as you do action sports so that it can capture all the action, and they call it revolutionary. No, it won’t be. I will take mediocre footage of you fooling around in the wild. But lets rewind a bit:

Helico Space Industries launched a Kickstarter campaign and they raised a bit over $1.3M, blowing past their initial goal of $200K and their goal was to deliver a quad copter that will follow a user automatically while filming the subject and keeping the shot in frame, via a tracking bracelet. Fast forward and they now demonstrated their quad at CES 2015. Their first batch of quads are supposed to be delivered next month, at their initial price of $1300.

Now, there is nothing wrong with trying the capture the market and creating devices that will allow us to record ourselves at every moment, but technology isn’t the savior. Their upcoming feature, sense and avoid, seems great on paper, but all the algorithms in the world won’t save us from ignorance and general stupidity. Crashing isn’t something might ruin a flying session: its unavoidable. Gravity makes no exceptions. And when these “drones” become more and more ubiquitous, the only thing that will avoid injury, damages and liabilities is education.

We need to teach people about the risks of flying multirotors and how to minimize them. We need to educate the public about how these flying miracles work and how to maintain them. Common sense isn’t very common and if we keep telling the public that these things fly themselves by adding more and more technological features, we’re doomed. But most importantly, lets teach a fellow enthusiast how to actually fly.