It's pretty much an accepted fact that parents are going to worry about their kids getting to the bus stop safely until they reach a certain independent age. It used to be this meant Mom or Dad walking embarrassingly close by. Those dark days are gone with the breakthrough from one high-tech Dad who rigged up a quadcopter to follow and monitor his son's progress.
Paul Wallich from Vermont was faced with the dilemma of wanting to make sure his son was safe, but not wanting to freeze his butt off in the extremely cold winters. He turned to a basic quadcopter kit to begin his modifications in creating the perfect eye-in-the-sky parenting proxy.
Wallich created replacement legs out of foam board to cushion the 'copter's landings, and he took an old school (and cheaper) video option by simply strapping an old smartphone to the sturdy body of the quadcopter and turning on video chat.
Though the quadcopter could be programmed via coordinates, knowing his son takes different routes every day Wallich created a coin-cell battery powered GPS beacon he dropped into his son's backpack. Now the quadcopter could follow a varied route, but at a safe 15 foot distance from his son.
As one would expect with a first time project, Wallich learned a few lessons.
The quadcopter had to deal with some stiff winds and the branches lining his son's route. In an interview with NBC News, Wallich noted the 'copter didn't have the ability to avoid branches and would run right into them.
This is a Dad with a can-do attitude though. He plans on improving on his first attempt by adding sonar units that would help navigate around branches and other obstacles. New sensors would also refine the positioning. He notes he also needs to address the battery life, which takes a beating by having to deal with winds and the motion. Extra batteries add a counter productive weight.
Currently Wallich's quadcopter just makes it to the bus stop and back before losing power, so he's got some work to do. Fortunately, his son reportedly likes the automated robot drone.
However, Wallich indicated that his son liked the automated robot drone. It sounds like a perfect solution for kids who've reached that age when a hovering parent doesn't help their cool factor, but a quadcopter?