25/07/2024

Technology Talks

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Droning On and On and On

Droning On and On and On

One of the Coolest things to come buzzing along lately isn’t even really a new thing-surprise, surprise-Personal pets! But these pets aren’t fur, teeth and claws, or feathers and beak, or even scaley. Nope. These are small autonomous unmanned aerial vehicles; yep: Pet Drones! Considering the possibilities for outstanding fun and virtually unlimited companionship. (They also represent something else a little unsettling, if taken to extremes: they could function as our personal valets and video diarists-essentially personal ‘slaves.’ But, hey! They’re just robots! Like your Roomba vacuum cleaner or other convenience smart-gear around your house.)

Think of it. You’re leaving your flat in the morning with your hands full of coffee mug, breakfast snack, tablet and what-have-yous. Just behind you, hovering politely is ‘Pterry’ your pet solar-rechargeable-battery-powered-quad-copter drone. She is your phone via bluetooth ear bud, carries your keys, and other personal brick-a-brack, for you, gives you a bird’s-eye view, via your augmented-reality (AR) glasses, ahead down the crowded street, train platform, etc., reminds you of your appointments with a gentle ping and message, follows your kids to the bus stop and records every second of it, records the interactions you have with strangers, colleagues and friends, delivers messages to ‘attractive-other-parties’ at the bar or restaurant-very discreetly of course-and naturally she is totally devoted to you alone. Sound like the pet-of-the-year yet?

This isn’t even the pet of tomorrow! (Save for the AR glasses which you’ll have to wait at least till the end of the year, again–shame on Google for teasing… ) It’s the pet of today! Seriously!

From little dragonfly-like devices like the Delfly which probably won’t hold your car keys let alone your phone, to big quad-rotor flyers like the affordably priced Parrot Models-that can carry a significant payload besides their own camera and are controlled by your iphone, ipad or android.

But, ‘Okay… How much am I plopping down to realize this dream?’ you ask. Brace yourself-Anywhere from under a hundred dollars to most of them at a few hundred, to heavy four-figure-serious-let’s-go-all-out-is the startling answer.

And if you want to really have a custom ‘pet,’ you can go to Chris Anderson’s brainchild: 3D Robotics, a DIY drone shop, and build your own ideal dream drone from the rotors up… or rather down. Chris has simplified the approach we can all begin to adopt regarding these once military toys: “How do you feel about camera phones? These are just camera phones with wings.” Simple, right?!

If DIY isn’t really your strong suit, how about buying a bit of time on your local 3D Printer? Presenting the PL2Q Hugin.

I must offer a caveat; only GPS enabled UAVs are technically considered: Drones. The rest are highly functioning Radio-Controlled flyers. Whatever is your cup of tea-build your own or buy your ‘pet’ ready to serve you out of the box-Here are some other types, and sources for your perusal:

Udrones, ArduCopter 3DR Quad D – Ready-to-Fly

Affordable UAVs-the V900 series-from GroupeWhalen (WLToys, a company in China)

MeCam from Always Innovating

SNELFLIGHT: QUADPOD

Drones For Sale

Of course it is one of the Laws of Motion that there be an equal and opposite force. Introducing: Domestic Drone Countermeasures LLC

They are prepared to offer anyone, who is less than excited about this new ever-videoed world we are entering, methods of camouflaging yourself, your home and things from snoopy drone-eyes-in-the-skies-whether they are personal craft or official snoopers! Then if that weren’t enough, there are legislators prepared to propose ‘drone-free-airspace’ above their states… (Texas of all places would be on that list!) And then there are the bills being proposed on Capitol Hill regarding much the same issues of personal privacy. Most of these have to do with FAA protocols not yet up to speed with the newest entry into US airspace.

This is where some common sense should prevail-Drone Pet Etiquette!

We don’t think it’s okay to burst into people’s homes as it is, why shouldn’t our pets be constrained by the same courtesy. Really? Why are people so paranoid? Now don’t get me started about Law Enforcement’s illegal use of drones for illegitimate and unauthorized surveillance…