Ready yourself to hear, “Pizza incoming from above”. Animal New York on how petite unmanned drones are poised to reshape the urban environment, possibly as soon as three years from now:
The spread of do-it-yourself robotics could radically change the news, the police, business and politics. And it could spark a sort of drone arms race as competing robot users seek to balance out their rivals. Imagine police drones patrolling at treetop level down city streets, their cameras scanning crowds for weapons or suspicious activity. “Newsbots” might follow in their wake, streaming live video of the goings-on. In nearby zip codes, drones belonging to real estate agents scope out hot properties. Robots deliver pizzas by following the signal from customers’ cell phones.
These aren’t just fantasies. All of these things are happening today, although infrequently and sometimes illegally. The only thing holding back the robots is government regulations that have failed to keep up with technology. The regs are due for an overhaul in 2015. That’s the year drones could make their major debut.
Today, Mikrokopter in Germany sells a popular eight-rotor “Oktokopter” ‘bot for $3,000. Parrot prices its four-engine drones to move at $400 or less. You steer an Oktokopter with a handheld radio controller. The Parrot AR Drone follows commands from an iPhone, iPad or Android running a free app. The NYPD, for one, has already considered using robots to complement its fleet of manned helicopters, according to press reports.