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New $9,950 autonomous home security drone is giving off dystopian vibes

Published Jan 7th, 2020 3:30PM EST
Sunflower Labs drone
Image: Sunflower Labs

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If the idea of a drone that autonomously orbits your home to protect you from unseen dangers — and which costs almost $10,000 — sounds enticing to you and not like something out of a dystopian thriller that could end up going horribly wrong, then you’re in luck. Sunflower Labs, which is based in both Zurich as well as San Francisco, has launched what it’s billing as the first fully autonomous residential security drone in the world, unveiling it Tuesday during CES 2020 ahead of a planned release to customers in the middle part of this year after they’ve made a deposit of $999 for each unit.

One of the big selling points here is the ability to constantly monitor your home’s surroundings via the system’s always-on motion and vibration sensors in order to cut down on false alarms (something that apparently accounts for an inordinately high number of police calls from security systems). Not mentioned in today’s announcement? Little things like snow, rain, and hail that one would think such a drone would run into and get pelted by from time to time.

The way the drone works:

There are three components within the drone system, which the company is calling the “sunflowers, bee, and hive.”

  • The Sunflowers: These are disguised as garden lights and house motion and vibration sensors to constantly monitor activity on the property. Sunflowers are also able to distinguish between people, animals and cars as well as display the activity on a map in real-time.
  • The Bee: This is the lightweight, fully-autonomous drone, with advanced features that include automatic deployment, fully autonomous flight, ultrasonic collision-avoidance sensors, high-precision differential GPS and live-streaming video.
  • The Hive: The bee is kept safe and powered-up inside this waterproof housing called the “hive,” which also includes an embedded system that enables AI data processing and analysis.

Sunflower Labs explains in its announcement that if the system detects anything out of the ordinary, it sends an alert to the property owner’s mobile device. And then in just a matter of seconds, the owner can decide whether to launch a drone flight that will be executed autonomously, with real-time aerial footage of the owner’s property that’s viewable via the Sunflower Labs app from anywhere in the world.

“Advancements in smart home security have been stationary or dependent on video cameras until now,” said Sunflower Labs co-founder and CEO Alex Pachikov. “Thanks to the integration of AI and machine learning, homeowners can now have a truly smart security system that, over time, learns and reacts to its surroundings.”

Andy Meek Trending News Editor

Andy Meek is a reporter based in Memphis who has covered media, entertainment, and culture for over 20 years. His work has appeared in outlets including The Guardian, Forbes, and The Financial Times, and he’s written for BGR since 2015. Andy's coverage includes technology and entertainment, and he has a particular interest in all things streaming.

Over the years, he’s interviewed legendary figures in entertainment and tech that range from Stan Lee to John McAfee, Peter Thiel, and Reed Hastings.