Every weekday morning, Paul Wallich would accompany his young son some 400 meters from their home to the bus stop to make sure he was sent off to school safely. It’s not a terribly long distance to travel on foot but when it’s cold outside during the winter, it can certainly be an inconvenience.
It was for this very reason that Wallich decided to come up with a better solution to escort his kid to the bus stop – right from the comfort of his home. He decided to build a quadrocopter equipped with a camera that would stream live video directly to his computer.
The idea sounds easy enough in theory as you can readily buy a quadrocopter kit at virtually any hobby or electronics specialty shop. Supplying a live view of the drone’s flight was also pretty easy as Wallich simply attached a smartphone to the copter and used a video chatting app to stream live images to his PC.
As he described on IEEE, the easy part was getting the copter into the air with the video surveillance system installed. The tricky part, however, was figuring out how to get the drone to track his son’s movement during the 400 meter trek.
After looking into several long-distance RFID options, he decided that a GPS beacon would work best for his application. He ultimately installed a small transmitter beacon that fits discretely in his sons backpack. It’s powered by coin-cell battery that can typically last up to a week.
Overall, the copter is able to perform the task it was intended to do but it’s not without some issues. Flight can be difficult if it’s windy outside and the GPS tracking is reportedly only good up to a distance of about 10 meters. Another concern is the copter’s battery life. The inventor says it has just enough power to fly to the bus stop, wait for the bus then make it back home before dying.