When we have unmanned aerial vehicles zipping about delivering school textbooks and burritos, drones that bring neighborhoods closer together doesn't sound like the most radical idea. But combining them with a social network could have impacts beyond enabling more efficient shipping services, at least in the eyes of software and robotics company Fatdoor. This week it launched a crowdfunding campaign for Skyteboard, an internet-connected quadcopter designed to take community spirit to the next level.
For all the opportunities aerial drones might bring, bridging the gap between people already living in close proximity might not be the first that springs to mind. Nevertheless, so enthusiastic is Fatdoor CEO Raj Abhyanker about the potential for drones to foster neighborly love, he and his team have developed functioning prototypes and are looking to set those rotors in motion.
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Skyteboard features built-in GPS, Wi-Fi and 3G, a full HD camera and a 1 lb (450 g) payload, enabling it to carry a second camera or deliver sugar to the sweet-toothed homebody one street over. Technical details on charging and battery life are scarce, but the company says it is aiming to achieve a 15 minute flight time.
Users can control their Skyteboard by logging into the Fatdoor network on their iOS or Android devices.The social platform is geared toward enabling neighbors to connect and collaborate, whether it be renting out a room in their house or trying to track down a lost kitten.
Once they take flight, the company sees the drones flying in formation to film local soccer matches from various angles and stream to spectators' devices, carrying banners promoting that Sunday's barbecue and delivering packages to nearby friends. Users will also be able to share flight paths and video with others over the Fatdoor network.
Much like Amazon's Prime Air announcement last year, the concept raises questions regarding Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulation and the use of unmanned aerial drones for commercial purposes. While technology has a habit of finding unforeseen applications, we're not sure how this example will play out in the real world. Can you see Skyteboards taking flight in your neighborhood anytime soon, or will the idea of a social networking aerial drone struggle to get off the ground? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.
Through the Kickstarter campaign, a pledge of US$1,099 will put you in line for a Skyteboard, with shipping estimated for November 2014 if all goes to plan.
You can hear from the team behind Skyteboard in the video below.