These On-Demand Drones Are Just A Concept, But They Still Freak Me Out

It's looking increasingly likely that our skies will be clouded with drones in the future. Hiring a drone to do some work for you could one day be as easy as getting a ride from Uber, which you should find equal parts incredible and terrifying.

Gofor is an on-demand drones concept created by Alex Cornell and Phil Mills. More than a lame spoof, it's intended as a thought experiment that explores how our lives might change if we extrapolate the current exposition of drone technology to no the not-so-distant future, after all those pesky pending questions about regulation and safety have been resolved. What would the skies look like if you could use a drone without the knowhow necessary to fly one or any of the responsibility for hardware upkeep? What would you use a drone for?

The Gofor concept is just one possibility. Controlled by an iPad app, it allows you to find a drone for hire, and order it to do different tasks. For example, you might task a drone to take your photo when you're walking on a scenic cliff. In another scenario suggested by the concept video, you can task your drone to follow you home when you're in a neighbourhood where you feel uncomfortable. In the conceptual space, the options are endless: Never worry about sending your drunk friend home again. A Gofor drone will keep an eye on them for you.

Hell, using Gofor, you could even just find a drone in an general area you'd like to explore and take it for an airborne jaunt. If you're curious whether the beach is crowded, you no longer have to guess or trust someone else's judgment. You can fly a drone over and see for yourself.

Aside from the service itself, Cornell, the project's designer, says he was primarily concerned with what a user interface might look like. If you're going to put drones in everybody's hands, you've got to come up with a UI anyone can use.

I was intrigued by the idea of designing a UI for a consumer drone interface; mainly because the future UI's you typically see are so non-functional and clearly place aesthetics over any kind of real usability. I wanted to explore what a drone app UI would be like -- something that anyone could use, with obvious controls and intuitive functionality.

As conceived by Cornell and Mills, Gofor's on-demand drones are almost omnipotent, which is what gives the concept a dystopian bend. No matter how useful the service is, you can't help but feel slightly creeped out by it. The drones are seemingly endlessly manoeuvrable and intelligent. They're tapped into all the of the geo-location networks we're used to, like Facebook, Foursquare, Google Maps, etc. They can do basically anything.

Of course, that's what makes Gofor a fiction. We haven't yet resolved questions about safety and regulation, which says nothing of the face that the underlying technology that could make unmanned aerial vehicles as useful as Gofor conceives them just isn't there yet. The FAA has been slow to write rules on drone use and is still throwing up roadblocks to drone usage -- even if it looks like that won't last much longer. Indeed, even if drones are more awesome and accessible than they have ever been before, they're still falling out of the sky and injuring people. But the tech is moving fast, and it's only a matter of time before we've got to confront the possibility of Gofor, or at least something a lot like it. [Gofor and Alex Cornell and Phil Mills]