“Selfie Drones”: Next Year's Hot Holiday Gift?
These consumer drones are on their way. Is that a good thing?
Big selfie fan? Soon (possibly starting next year) you'll be able to take your selfie fervor further by buying a selfie drone. You toss these in the air and they follow you around, taking photos and video and — in the case of at least one drone — flying back to you “as if it were a trained raptor,” according to a recent article in the New York Times.
But before you add a selfie drone to your wish list, take a minute to image some possible scenarios (and check out some of the dumbest things people have done with regular drones, not to mention with selfie sticks.)
Most selfie drones use GPS to track you, so they won’t race off, unlike one drone that crashed into a three-story building in New York City. But they could pose other problems, safety or otherwise, according to some sources. The author of the New York Times article, for example, envisions teens with new selfie drones crashing them into sunbathers on holiday or hovering over — and taking video of — the unsuspecting public.
One selfie drone prototype does not have “obstacle avoidance capability” — meaning it can't stop itself from slamming into people or property. And when it comes to drones, small doesn’t necessarily mean safe.
In May, pop singer Enrique Iglesias was badly injured when he tried to grab a small drone taking selfies as he performed on stage during concert in Tijuana, according to The Guardian. Iglesias planned to turn the drone to give the fan a better view of himself and the stage. Instead he fractured his hand and lacerated his fingers.
In June, a woman watching a gay pride parade in Seattle was knocked unconscious when she was struck in the head by a falling two-pound drone. Also in June, a trio of Korean tourists taking drone selfies crashed their camera-equipped drone into the roof of the historic Milan Cathedral, unhooking a construction cableand narrowly missing a gold statue of the Madonna.
While most of the selfie drone prototypes are designed to fly only 25 to 50 feet high, some experts some believe a selfie drone hovering too close to an airstrip could endanger a flight on take-off or landing.
“Even a drone under 10 pounds could cause tremendous damage,” says commercial aviation pilot and drone expert Patrick Smith. “A two-pound bird can take out an engine.”