A genius dad invented something to make dad life easier: a flying, camera-equipped quadrocopter that could follow his kids to the school bus stop. That's right, a personal drone for his kids. Genius, I say. Genius!
Paul Wallich, the guy who cooked up the flying drone, used to walk his grade school son 400 metres down a hill to the bus stop. But he was always curious to make a drone with a camera follow his son so he could watch the trip from his computer. So he did it. And it's a lot easier than you think.
Wallich simply bought a quadrocopter kit and attached a smartphone with a video-chatting app enabled. The tricky part was to have the drone follow his kid. Wallich came up with a smart solution:
The hard part was getting it to locate and track its quarry. After looking into long-distance RFID systems, I decided to go with a GPS beacon instead. Reading an RFID tag from meters rather than centimeters takes more amplification and a fancier antenna than I was willing to have my quadcopter carry. And the open-source flight software already has a "follow-me" mode that will keep the copter an arbitrary distance from a GPS position delivered by radio.
So Wallich made a beacon to fit inside his son's backpack. He chose a RF modem to send out GPS signals to the copter and bam, flying drone kid walker. Well, it's not as simple as that. Battery life is an issue and so is wind but it's pretty awesome to imagine a kid having a homemade quadrocopter trail him on his walk to school. Read more about Paul Wallich's great DIY parenting skills at IEEE. [IEEE via Geekosystem]