Drones are everywhere. Whether they are shooting aerials, participating in races or delivering parcels, they are without a doubt used for a multitude of purposes.
So when a Japanese company creates a drone to power an umbrella, we say, “why not?”
It’s not the first time a drone has been imagined as an umbrella.
Earlier this year, a team of Korean scientists were granted a patent to develop a ‘drone-brella‘.
And in April 1st of this year French drone manufacturer Parrot asked followers on Facebook if they’d prefer a ‘Rainbop’ or a ‘Sunbop’ drone to be developed, in an April Fools’ joke.
But now, Japanese company Asahi Power Service have actually created a prototype ‘hover parasol’, as reported by Sora News 24.
Built around a four-rotor drone equipped with a camera and artificial intelligence with which to recognise and follow its owner, the Free Parasol as it is called, is able to position itself to protect it from the sun or rain.
Of course, such a device comes with some constraints, particularly with regard to flight time and operating noise. The current prototype weighs nearly 5 kg for 1.5 m in diameter and can only fly for 20 minutes.
The objective of the engineers working on this project is to reduce the weight of the drone umbrella below one kilogram in order to reach at least one hour of autonomy and improve the portability of the device.
Additionally, with regulations restricting drone use in public space, it is likely the drone umbrella would most likely be used in private spaces like golf clubs.
Sounds far-fetched? Apparently Asahi Power Services is optimistic and is already considering availability in 2019 for a price of about $275.