Genius Dad Makes Flying Quadrocopter To Walk His Kid To The Bus Stop

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]



    I wonder if it can fire spitball pellets at bullies? hehehe

    what a lazy bum, walking your kid is still the safest option,

    I had this exact same idea just a couple of weeks ago!! The school our kids will be going to is just down the road, thought this would be a great idea once they're old enough to want to walk to school by themselves, but still have peace of mind.

    And if someone tries to grab his son? After all, isn't that one of the main reasons you walk your kids to the bus . Wouldn't want lazy dad to get off his butt to look after his family though, that's probably violating his rights or something.

    He should be walking and talking with his son. Parenting isn't a video game.

      I can't believe the above comment has been downvoted, even for this site. Get real. Gadgets are there to augment your life, not to become an unhealthy obsession.

    Because children are abducted, terrorised and in danger every minute, of every day, on the way to school.

    Great geeking, stupid reasoning.

    Father of the year right there.

    What a bullshit trip from Psycholand USA - which has 5% of the worlds population, and consumes 2/3rds of the worlds anti-psychotic drugs.... more pollution, more wars exterminating more people and the fucking nut job parents even drive their kids from the front door to the kerb, so the bus can pick the kids up from out the front of their own house....

    This is moron copy paste journalism at it's typically stupidest.

    He'll be living hell on earth if his kid gets abducted coz of his laziness. Get a damn bike if you want to make it easier

    Knee-jerk reactions to something relatively benign AHOY!

    OMG, I can't believe some of these responses.... In grade 4 and onwards I use to ride nearly 4km to school each day, no getting driven or having parents watching me every step of the way. Do I think things are more dangerous for my kids today then it was for me?? NO!! It is just all in our lives and in the open more then it was back then.

    We're all living busy lives and if I could use something like this to make sure my kids got to school safely when I'm already at work and they want the independence of walking to school with their friends, whilst also acting as a deterrent against any that might seek to do them harm, why wouldn't I??

    Last edited 02/12/12 9:31 am

      You don't get it do you?
      He is so busy he has the time to fly a friggin' remote control helicopter to watch over his kid instead of walking him/her there!
      And if you are at work WTF are you doing flying a toy to watch your kid get to the bus stop,You should be working and If I were your boss I would fire you on the spot. School starts before most work places have morning tea breaks!
      Where I work you are not even allowed to have a mobile on let alone waste time flying some toy.
      You honestly think some molester out there gives a flying f&*k about some toy flying over head with a camera on it? You are NOT there to protect them when they need it, A camera does not stop the crime taking place all it does is help catch them later(sometimes), But it is useless if something bad were to happen,And if it did happen how bad would you feel watching it?
      No different than speed cameras, How does it help sending someone a bill 2 weeks after the incident when they may already have had an accident, It deters no one and saves no lives. Months after the fine most people forget and are back to old habits!

      If they have the time to fly a toy to watch their kid/s then they should parent properly or not have any in the first place. I bet these same parents are the ones that raise arrogant little brats that end up being trouble makers later on,Let them do what they want when they want with no discipline. Lazy parents are the worst parents!

        Whilst it is unfortunate that you happen to have a job at such a draconian workplace, I do not, and in fact if I had something like this my boss and probably half my co-workers would be sitting around watching the feed at the time too.

        Overall but, what I was talking about wasn't with today's technology. My oldest is only 3, so it will be quite a few years before he is walking/riding to school without parental supervision, and by then I would hope that there would be an autonomous solution which I could pipe the feed to my Google Glass type device and continue to work whilst watching in the corner of my eye.

        Now, I'm not wanting to start an argument about the usefulness of security camera's, as I suspect you're just trolling, but anyone who thinks that someone is just as likely to commit a very serious crime when there is a camera on them is probably just as dumb as the person attempting to commit said crime. Yes there will always be the uber crazies, or ultra determined ones that even if an adult was with the child it might not make a difference, but if I can provide my child with some security, whilst also allowing them some sense of independence and responsibility, I would be neglectful not to do so.

        As for your closing argument, there is a difference between a lazy parent, and a busy parent. My mother was a single parent raising 4 children, working full time, and studying part time so as to better herself, and by extension the life of her children, which through many personal struggles she succeeded in. Did this mean that she was always around to walk us or drive as to or from school? No. Did this mean that she was lazy but, obviously not.

    Imagine, four kids meet up on their walk to school. Four quadrocopters hovering a discrete distance above and behind, and jockeying for a good position. Now they need collision avoidance radar. Imagine the chaos when kiddies arrives at school. 200 quadrocopters all converging on the no-hovering zone above the SUVs. And at the end of the day, all those quadrocopter lined up waiting for Johnny or Janey.

    On a plus side, that potentially cooling downdraft on a hot summer's day.

    400m people! It's a fun idea. If he used a parrot AR Drone, he could record it all in 720p!
    Just need to pair it up with a land based drone too :p

    Ha ha ha. Nice one kenrob.

    I agree with Chris81. I was riding to school starting from age 7 and it a was valuable experience.
    I rode about 3km across a suburb and I had a lot of fun.
    I lost skin, I fell off my bike whilst trying to kick a ball; landing of the pedal and losing my breath,
    I dealt with crazy dogs chasing me, but I never got abducted.
    I was still a fat shit but I liked cream buns and there's only so much cycling can do about that.

    Wouldn't it be easier to attach the camera to his kid? Just a thought.

    And so when the GPS unit chucks a wobbly and the UAV goes rogue into oncoming traffic and causes a car accident or hits someone in the head, is he still a genius Dad? There are regulations in Australia against flying a UAV autonomously like this for very good reason.

    While I agree that the application of tech is *cool*, IMHO if Dad wants to supervise the kid, he should take the time to walk to the bus stop with him/her.

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