December 5, 2012

Parenting By Drone Meet Moore's Law

wallach_arducopter_parent.jpg

Oh, the sweet drone permasurveillance future cannot come soon enough.

At least for Paul Wallich, who wrote in IEEE Spectrum about his first [!] attempt to build an Arduino-powered, video-chatcam and GPS-equipped, quadcopter drone to follow his son down the hill to the bus stop each [cold, wintry] morning:

The copter is skittish when it's windy, and GPS guidance is good to 10 meters at best. Because my particular front yard is only about 15 meters across, with a long, tree-edged driveway leading to the street, I either have to follow automatically above the treetops--where I can't really see what's going on--or else supplement the autopilot with old-fashioned line-of-sight remote control. Which somewhat defeats the original plan of staying warm and dry while a drone does my parenting. 

The hilariscariest part is, it seems like we're only an order of magnitude improvement in battery life and drone development before drone-based helicopter parenting becomes feasible, which means only a couple more iterations before it becomes practical, and then BAM, it's trivial, and Apple/Google will bake it right in.

Arducopter Parenting | The DIY Kid-Tracking Drone [ieee.org via dt reader nathan]

8 Comments

Has he considered giving the kid an RFID tag and planting scanners and cameras all over his neighborhood, like that Texas high school?

Technology is wonderful, but I tend to favor the old fashioned approach - dressing up like a ninja and leaping from rooftop to rooftop following your kid. I even have a pouch for my coffee mug.

Two questions come to mind: What would the drone be looking for? And what would it do when it saw it? In the Afghanistan the answers seem to be "Al Qaeda" and "fire a missile." For the walk to school, I'm not so sure.

Yeah, I agree. if the drone sees a van pull up and a pair of arms grab his kid, what is it going to do?

I love how practical the drone/parent/stalking discussion is here, as opposed to the article itself, which is mostly just driveby criticism of the guy's parenting. Keep it comin'!

As a pilot, I'm not in favor of all these drones buzzing around, so I'd just put the kid on a Segway Kidporter. Mount a couple of 4G-enabled Hero cameras on the handlebar, and a differential GPS autopilot to get the kid where you need him to go while surveiling and conversing via Facetime (iPhone mount extra). The Kidporter would have enough oomph to carry some gear like a mini-Phalanx (rounds not included) or Trophy defense system to counter van-driving pedophiles. Once at school, the bus, School of Rock, etc., the Kidporter either returns home, picks up your sushi order, eradicates feral cats, or just waits so you can check in on the comings and goings at the destination.

The van better look out for his OTHER quadcopter that will be hovering just a dozen yards away.

@micah: not even the orange soda is safe

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