If the ghost of tech future could grant me any home security wish, my wildest desire would be: a home without burglar bars, without beams in the backyard, and no Rottweiler lying at the gate.
Just a flock of drones hovering around the house. Occasionally one would return to the house to recharge, while its siblings stayed on patrol outside. Intruders would be identified using infrared and occupants warned immediately with an alarm.
My ultimate fantasy is if the drones were fitted with pepper ball guns and, using advanced AI, could actually deter intruders. Of course this would eventually escalate to a burglar accompanied by his own swarm of attacking drones (“Drone Man“?). In my mind’s eye I imagine pitched battles between good and evil drones… but I digress.
At the end of last year, we were told that our home security systems would include autonomous drones.
So, what is happening to our new security guards?
Some companies are finding the spotlight when it comes to drone, home security: Aptonomy, Eighty Nine Robotics, Secom Co., and DJI. So, here are three of the companies and their products as examples of what you can expect.
Sunflower Home Awareness System
So, when will we get home security drones?
This is a difficult question to answer for several reasons. Firstly, legislation on drone regulation and flight space may hamper drone implementation as cameras mounted on drones serve as serious privacy issues. Think about this, how would you determine your drone’s air space according to your property? In 2016, the American federal government officially opened America’s skies to commercial drone use. However, the government requires drone operators to pass aeronautical exams first. Some of the key rules include the following: drones must weigh less than 25 kilograms, they must not fly higher than 122 meters, they must remain in the operator’s sight. These rules hamper certain commercial uses but they shouldn’t be a problem for automated home security use. However, this is in America. Countries around the world may take different stances on drone use.
Secondly, is access to new technology. Where you are in the world plays a major role on when new tech is made available. Often the further you are from the USA or Europe the more expensive particular technology or goods can become. Coupled with drone regulation, some of us will not be seeing the mass roll-out of drone security systems for some time. Moreover, when we do, it may be already out-of-date or too expensive.
Thirdly, testing new technology takes time. This ensures that the tech is working efficiently and safely. This is important considering most home security systems rely on the fact that you as a customer do not have to control the system. We don’t want to fly a drone every thirty minutes to patrol our homes because we busy at work or with our family.
Lastly, battery life is a major issue. Most drones give you between 10 and 30 minutes of flight time. Overtime battery technology will overcome current shortcomings. As an example, Intelligent Energy in the UK focuses on hydrogen fuel cells that work together with conventional batteries to extend the life of portable power applications. In the meantime, Alarm.com and Sunflower Labs’ solution is only to launch the drone when another security system is triggered. For Sunflower Labs, the solar lights trigger the drone to take-off, while Alarm.com has a host of automated home security solutions that will work in conjunction with their drone to prompt a take-off. Once the disturbance is dealt with, the drone returns to its docking station to recharge and wait for its next flight. Aptonomy’s drone flies back to its charging station when its battery is running low.
Some of the first articles describing the use of drones for home security in 2016 suggest that the technology would have been available “next year”. Well, its next year and the most popular names on the web at the moment (Alarm.com, Sunflower Labs, and Aptonomy) are all still developing their products with talk that some companies will only begin testing at the end of 2017. Some articles suggest we could see roll-outs in September 2018.
Some good news, you can pre-order Sunflower’s Home Awareness System. This pre-order puts you in line to become one of Sunflower’s first customers and help them test their products through their ‘Beta Program’. Aptonomy Inc. is also on the pre-order train, with one energy company reportedly placing a pre-order of their drones as new security measures for refineries.
Some issues are still being raised around the adoption of drones in civilian society. The weaponization of drones and the use of cameras with advanced software that can recognise faces and operate at night sum up the concerns raised by the public – take for example the Connecticut bill in the USA. Regardless, drones are here to stay, and their adoption in home-security is exciting as it improves home owner safety.