Those Flying Machines

Drones that enhance our lifestyle, by frog.

In a robot lab at TEDGlobal, Raffaello D’Andrea conducted a dizzying demonstration of flying quadcopters, robots that process data faster than ever, solving problems with algorithms that help them learn. His airborne robots performed acrobatics and juggled balls—and a bunch of them even flew in a coordinated pattern. D’Andrea is a professor of dynamic systems and controls at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich and a co-founder of Kiva systems, a robotics company that develops automated warehouse systems.

Unmanned aerial vehicles, otherwise known as drones, seem to be everywhere. Hovering above battlefields as remotely piloted attack weapons, silently tracking insurgency forces, listening in on what we’re saying, and keeping track of everything we do. As drone technology advances, however, and interest in their unique capabilities expands, drones are being deployed for increasingly important roles far removed from fighting wars and spying. At TEDGlobal’s highly anticipated session on drones, titled “Those Flying Machines,” speakers showcased drones that aid scientists with low-cost, aerial surveillance of environmentally endangered regions, and drones that could help deliver essential goods to the more than one billion people on Earth with no access to all-season roads. To extend this conversation, frog designers Eric Boam, Adam Pruden, Kyle Becker, and Sheldon Pacotti imagined future uses of drones that could enhance our lifestyle with their flexible flying skills and high-tech onboard equipment.

Guardian Angel
Never run alone again

As a pace setter, it flies ahead while you run and syncs its pace based on your goals and data from previous runs. By connecting to a heart-rate monitor strapped to your body, the Guardian Angel helps you adjust your performance by providing instant feedback, pushing you forward when it knows you have more to give and warning you to ease up when it senses you’re reaching your limits. 

As a social device, Guardian Angel can create real-time competition for you and your running mates by matching the pace of everyone’s runs—past and present—so you can run and train together, regardless of location. Equipped with an onboard camera, you have access to videos of your runs to analyze your performance and improve your stride and form.

Paparazzi
Indulge your self-obsession


The Paparazzi drone allows you to take your image-conscious, self-obsessed habits to the next level. Consider it a “selfie” on steroids that can capture every moment of your life.

Like the relentless paparazzi photographers who hound A-listers, this drone lets you virtually stream your entire life to all of your social networks without pulling out your phone or even lifting a finger. It’s always with you, always recording, always posting. From last night’s awesome concert to that excellent meal at the hippest new restaurant, it has your life-logging covered.

With advanced image stabilization, 360-degree image capture, 30-megapixel cameras, and 4K video recording, the Paparazzi always gets the best shot. Moreover, it always knows which side is your best, where the right light is, and how to capture the moment to maximize social envy.

If you don’t want to stream your entire life, Paparazzi can edit the clips automatically to create the ultimate highlight film. Or turn it on your friends to catch their most candid moments and make a blooper reel. With the Paparazzi drone, you’re always center stage and in control of every image.

Think Again

Issue 18

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