Dad creates video-equipped quadrocopter to walk son to the bus stop

By on November 30, 2012, 12:00 PM

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.




User Comments: 59

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4 people like this | Guest said:

Does the heli has missiles to defend the child in case of a kidnap?

3 people like this | Guest said:

Walk your kid to school you lazy F#^k.

If he has to walk out in the cold and snow at the age of 8 Walk your kid to school you lazy F#^k.

If he has to walk out in the cold and snow at the age of 8 why cant you as an adult?why cant you as an adult?

1 person liked this | danny22 said:

Not the first time that innovation happened for the sake of convenience :)

But seriously, don't be lazy to walk your Kid.

Drew Valadez Drew Valadez said:

Thats cool. you programmed a remote quad-copter to walk your kid. Now what are you going to do if someone grabs you kid waiting for that bus? You have to get your ass outta bed and chase down the kidnapper.

Had you of just walked your kid, your mere presence would of changed all of this (If it were to happen)

+1 on the creativity and idea but ultimately, do your job as a parent.

4 people like this | MilwaukeeMike said:

Does the heli has missiles to defend the child in case of a kidnap?

Get off his back....Random kidnaps are statistically far less likely than lightning strikes. You don't know this kid... maybe he's getting walked to the bus so he doesn't run over to his friends house who has two working parents and spend the day playing video games.

Anyway, what's the point... if you're willing to kidnap a kid, what's the difference if you tazer or shoot the dad in the process. At least the copter might follow the kid till the battery dies and give the cops an idea of where they're going.

You want to see a lazy parent, go hang out in a walmart parking lot and count how many parents are too lazy to buckle their kid's seat belt.

Win7Dev said:

You all know you wish your dad was cool enough to build a helicopter for you... That's actually sounds like a fun project that has a semi-practicle purpose. It definitely needs a longer battery life though.

Guest said:

Daddy must be very lazy, not even able to search the internet.

[link]

This is a already made quad copter with HD video.

1 person liked this | Lionvibez said:

Very cool idea and sounds like fun but I agree with the rest of you very lazy parent.

So wait its too cold for you to get out of bed but its warm enough for your kid to walk to school alone?

ReederOnTheRun ReederOnTheRun said:

Rock on for making an awesome heli!!

But also man up and walk your kid to the bus. Then your heli will have enough battery for an air raid on the squirrels in your backyard.

3 people like this | davislane1 davislane1 said:

Half the comments on this article explain why modern kids (and 90% of my peers) have no sense of responsibility. When my parents went to school, they walked miles to and from. Decades later, 400m unaccompanied to a bus stop constitutes a hardship and bad parenting. Ironically, it's still deemed acceptable to let a teenager drive a motor vehicle...

Guest said:

This is creative and does sound cool. Maybe the Dad should get a dog, the kid walks the dog to the bus stop and lets the dog run back home. It's safer for the kid and Dad can still stay warm. :)

TekGun TekGun said:

Good idea for the transition period when your kid first starts getting themselves to school.

Wendig0 Wendig0, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Does the heli has missiles to defend the child in case of a kidnap?

Get off his back....Random kidnaps are statistically far less likely than lightning strikes. You don't know this kid... maybe he's getting walked to the bus so he doesn't run over to his friends house who has two working parents and spend the day playing video games.

Anyway, what's the point... if you're willing to kidnap a kid, what's the difference if you tazer or shoot the dad in the process. At least the copter might follow the kid till the battery dies and give the cops an idea of where they're going.

You want to see a lazy parent, go hang out in a walmart parking lot and count how many parents are too lazy to buckle their kid's seat belt.

Quit making excuses for this lazy pos. I highly doubt he would be kidnapped, but unless the guy is a paraplegic or suffering from copd, he's a lazy bastard, and needs to be called out on it.

misor misor said:

Escort = personal

from a distance = surveillance

"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."

so that's why he stays in his couch and he let his son walk alone...in the cold...

Benny26 Benny26, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I'd be tempted to build another copter to keep an eye on the copter with my smartphone on it...

...oh wait.

2 people like this | cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Here is a concept to all you commenter complaining about how lazy this parent is. Why don't you stay up watching your business instead of using surveillance cameras to record while you are at home. You people are downgrading this parent without knowing all the details. I would be willing to bet you would do anything to make your life easier, just as this parent is trying to do. Quite frankly you all disgust me, for being so judgmental! At least this parent is willing to watch his kids, even if it is from the comfort of his own couch.

1 person liked this | Zeromus said:

Here is a concept to all you commenter complaining about how lazy this parent is. Why don't you stay up watching your business instead of using surveillance cameras to record while you are at home. You people are downgrading this parent without knowing all the details. I would be willing to bet you would do anything to make your life easier, just as this parent is trying to do. Quite frankly you all disgust me, for being so judgmental! At least this parent is willing to watch his kids, even if it is from the comfort of his own couch.

Don't forget, he doesn't want his friends to see him being personally escorted and have his Dad crampin' his style.

1 person liked this | MrAnderson said:

Interesting engineering project... lazy parenting.

I thought the story was going to mention that the father was disabled or something... but no, unless I missed something... no mention other than being inconvenienced by having to take his son to the bus stop.

Bad parenting aside, why not use a rover? It has a better battery capacity options.

Guest said:

Inefficient use of his time and resources, but at least he can avoid spending some extra time with his 8-yr old. Afterall, they're just so nauseatingly sweet at that age, so who would ?

2 people like this | BlueDrake said:

Apparently people who are bashing him, think it's amusing to call him lazy. I'm sure that bashing is more of a personal insecurity, how do you know anything about the person? Clearly the article doesn't state anything, but does that mean suddenly go attack him as a parent? Really sure you'd love to do that also, even if it's for other purposes.

Lazy or not it doesn't matter. Should we call you lazy, inadequate or such, if YOU won't do something? Chill on the insults and at least critique things fairly, you don't know the situation so zip the negativity overflow.

1 person liked this | captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

Well, the quad rotor helo for the iPhone is neither new business or likely designed by the dad in question.

This platform has been available over the counter at better hobby shops for quite a while:

See for yourself: [link]

Plus, you can search Youtube as there's plenty of video on this topic.

I was actually intrigued by one of these at the local hobby shop. But, needing an iPhone was the deal breaker.

And yes boys and girls, even I have enough sense not to weigh in on the quality of parenting issue. Whooda thunk that?

Guest said:

Probably he plays Mario and don't want to waste any time with his son. Way to go, dad! XD

Guest said:

This is absolutely a joke. This guy wants slapped (n)

2 people like this | ThanosPAS ThanosPAS said:

Why all of you don't stick to your own lives instead of being so judgemental for something that you have little knowledge about? All this overprotectiveness derives from your genuine concern for parenting? Or from your neglected childhood - 'cause this parent seems to actually care - in contrast to your parents back in time - or just from your personal deficiencies?

3 people like this | Pan Wah said:

Has anyone considered the kid's perspective? I know from first hand experience that children much beyond kindergarten age find being walked by parents a drag & embarrassment, but may well think being tailed by a personal drone cool! Surely it's better than not caring at all, and possibly a really good idea (also, in the event of an "incident", the helidrone should provide evidence for the forthcoming abduction/assault case?) (y)

Guest said:

Next article: Dad creates custom predator-like drone equipped with Air-to-Ground Missile to avenge his son bullied at the school, kill strike confirmed three kids found dead in pieces..

hellokitty[hk] hellokitty[hk], I'm a TechSpot Evangelist, said:

I don't think this is the lazy way as this is far FAR more effort than walking to a bus stop.

This sounds like a lot of work but I wonder if it has sensors to avoid collisions which IMO is mandatory with rotating blades.

BlueDrake said:

Has anyone considered the kid's perspective? I know from first hand experience that children much beyond kindergarten age find being walked by parents a drag & embarrassment, but may well think being tailed by a personal drone cool! Surely it's better than not caring at all, and possibly a really good idea (also, in the event of an "incident", the helidrone should provide evidence for the forthcoming abduction/assault case?) (y)

Also what is more credible in an actual case? Actual footage of something happening, or just a general eyewitness accounting of things? People can be tainted or forget, you can't as easily ruin footage. Sure you can edit things out and such, but honestly there's a lot of angles you can view this.

I hate being so honestly negative to others, simply because they have a single viewpoint. Learn to view from two or three angles. Don't just zero in on something specific, if details are withheld from you. =)

bexwhitt said:

Daddy be a lazy fat **** geek

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

, post: 1257706, member: 169488"]I don't think this is the lazy way as this is far FAR more effort than walking to a bus stop.

This sounds like a lot of work but I wonder if it has sensors to avoid collisions which IMO is mandatory with rotating blades.

You were saying?

Scshadow said:

I kept expecting that somewhere in the story I would be told this guy broke his leg and thats why he couldn't walk to the bus stop. I'm not as judgmental as some on here, but I'm not going to say that what this guy is doing is particularly great or considerate. Many philosophical, psychological, and practical problems with this solution. The physical presence is intimidating to kidnappers. While you can still be incapacitated, why would a kidnapper risk an attempt at a less vulnerable target when there are more to choose from. How exactly does this make the child feel? Embarrassment when people ask wtf is the helicopter for? Kid would get more ridicule then if the parent was actually there. How does the kid feel about walking alone? It just seems so impersonal. Like why is my dad going through all that trouble just to not spend time with me. Thats not something you internalize instantly but overtime can have a profound effect on a relationship. Nevertheless, the copter is still better then nothing. The idea that your child could be missing the whole school day and you not have any idea about it, no kidnapper description, no car description. 10 hours later you are utterly screwed and have no fighting chance to find the child.

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Has anyone even thought about it may have been the kids idea?

Many philosophical, psychological, and practical problems with this solution.
These issues are going to be present regardless what the parent does. Kid grows up saying "My parent was always there never letting me make my own choices" or "My parent was never there and I had to grow up fast". You see it's not the parent single handedly, it's the parent child relationship that matters. And since there is no mention of this relationship, everyones judgmental attitudes are discredited.

I wonder how many other technological advancements were made that could have been labeled with the same names you mentioned. Everything that has been created and patented had to come from somewhere. Chances are high that the biggest portion of technology we use today was probably created while some parent was being negligent. Knowing this though will not stop anyone from using any of the products.

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

This one has missile: http://I.imgur.com/7Y8d8.jpg
(Credit for Image goes to "Guest" .

Perhaps, but the Predator stalls at well above walk speed, and you'd have to fly too wide a circle to keep it on station...

Xclusiveitalian Xclusiveitalian said:

That helicopter won't save your kid in an emergency, this is pure laziness and I do not approve. Plus your gonna have to sit and watch the camera anyway, so just do the task at hand!

Pan Wah said:

That helicopter won't save your kid in an emergency, this is pure laziness and I do not approve. Plus your gonna have to sit and watch the camera anyway, so just do the task at hand!

What task's that?

Guest said:

He's a lazy **** and a poor parent, discussion closed.

Guest said:

It's not so much about this specific case, it's about how parenting is going downhill. Look around you....the way people are parenting is quite disturbing and it's getting worse and worse. It's a fact: most parents can't be bothered anymore.

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Look around you....the way people are parenting is quite disturbing and it's getting worse and worse. It's a fact: most parents can't be bothered anymore.
Yeah and it all started when the government stepped in and confused parents on what exactly constitutes child abuse. Whats more abusive beating your kid for doing wrong or allowing your kid to continue doing wrong with very little consequence.

misor misor said:

Here is a concept to all you commenter complaining about how lazy this parent is. Why don't you stay up watching your business instead of using surveillance cameras to record while you are at home. You people are downgrading this parent without knowing all the details. I would be willing to bet you would do anything to make your life easier, just as this parent is trying to do. Quite frankly you all disgust me, for being so judgmental! At least this parent is willing to watch his kids, even if it is from the comfort of his own couch.

business and parenting are two different things.

if your business goes "cold", you can always restart it, provided you have funds.

if your kid goes "cold", would you simply create another child?

that is why it is called parenting... you are there when your child needs you.

from atty. denny crane to adopted son atty. donny crane:

"I provided you with the thing you needed most...MONEY."

2 people like this | captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

"Everybody has their fifteen minutes of fame".

IMHO, this entire thread has given too much attention to something very trivial.

At worst, this parent is just another crap hole with an iPhone addition.

In fact, as I attempted to explain in an evidentiary manner, he likely isn't even responsible for "creating" the helicopter involved.

That hasn't stopped everyone from weighting in with doomsday scenarios about how he's an abusive parent. The rest of the nonsense about a child being kidnapped is mostly Chicken Little, "the sky is falling" histronics, engineered to cast the poster in a righteous light, and as a paragon of virtue.

The truth is, most child "kidnappings" are performed by people known to all the parties involved, estranged, bitter, parents, and the like.

Then too, a kidnapping for money has to involve a well to do family. It really is pointless a hold a child at ransom, who is from a family on public assistance.

Even if we assume that the family in question is quite wealthy, the answer would be a professional bodyguard, and a limo to a private school.

So, most of this thread is pure sensationalism, better suited to "Access Hollywood", than a technically oriented website.

Forgive me, I'm from a bygone era, when children walked themselves to school after being shown how. And know what, women even had healthy children without benefit of a couple thousand dollar ultrasound, the photos of which are passed around to show other parents how "cute" their babies are, as short term fetuses. I can't understand why nobody can afford health insurance, can you?

...[ ]....if your kid goes "cold", would you simply create another child?
Take this for what it's worth; in my neighborhood that's pretty much exactly what is done. And why not pop out another if an earlier attempt gets murdered, or is doing a stint in the state pen.

You have to find a way to see to it your social entitlements continue without let up.

hellokitty[hk] hellokitty[hk], I'm a TechSpot Evangelist, said:

You were saying?

Ahhhh but from reading the article it's clear that he made the quadrocopter from parts and that's a little more work.

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

, post: 1258154, member: 169488"]Ahhhh but from reading the article it's clear that he made the quadrocopter from parts and that's a little more work.
But, the over the counter model has ducted fan rotors, which imparts the collision protection you suggested was mandatory.

With that said, these machines were available long before the man in question, "developed it", as were several models of the iPhone.

The joke is, the model I posted the picture, is only available for use with an iPhone. A standard radio control version doesn't exist. So, unless this news story was well over a year old before it was published, this person didn't "develop" anything. At most, it's a borrowed idea with different parts.

The story has been sensationalized, and in this thread, has evolved into a run of the mill pissing contest, to see who is going to win the argument, "who's the best parent ever".

I'm still coming down with: 1. stolen helo idea 2. iPhone addict, and 3, a massive hyperbolization by our membership about the dangers of a child walking to school alone.

Or as Shakespear would say, "much ado about nothing".

hellokitty[hk] hellokitty[hk], I'm a TechSpot Evangelist, said:

Or as Shakespear would say, "much ado about nothing".

Well, yes.

Zoltan Head said:

That helicopter won't save your kid in an emergency, this is pure laziness and I do not approve. Plus your gonna have to sit and watch the camera anyway, so just do the task at hand!

Yes, as Pan Wah asked, what task is that?

9Nails, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Oh I'm sure this isn't the first Dadsy thing made in the name of convenience. And it wont be the last. It would have slightly more impressive if it had used face recognition or object detection to identify the child. As far as practical purpose, I doubt that it has any. It's more toy than nanny. But it's technology, which is why I like it. =)

Guest said:

Lazy because he didn't buy something pre made? Besides, those are RC, not a drone tracking an RFID.

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

Lazy because he didn't buy something pre made? Besides, those are RC, not a drone tracking an RFID.
Well, if it's RFID you want, just drag the little s** * to your local veterinarian, and have him chipped like you would your prized toy poodle.

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

that is why it is called parenting... you are there when your child needs you.
The funny thing about that statement is no one in this thread has supported the claim that the child absolutely needed the parent to walk with. You know why, no one knows but yet members here don't hesitate to call the parent lazy and pathetic.

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

I'm just hoping the whole concept doesn't catch on. Do you realize what an enormous waste of time and money it would be to to have fleets of drones floating above the head of every child on the path to a school.?The FAA and NTSB would be out on a daily basis investigating the crashes.

Well that, and Apple would patent their model and sue every other manufacturer on the planet for infringement.

If this child is indeed so "special needs" then have them drive the school bus up your front lawn, so he doesn't get lost on the way to it.

Look Damien, walk toward the big yellow thing right over there, parked on the petunias

And then too, you should probably insist on seeing the results of a daily breathalyzer exam on the bus driver, before our future emperor hops on board...

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