A future in which homeowners display “Beware of Drone” signs on their property may not be too far off. As CNN reports, Sunflower Labs, a startup based in Silicon Valley and Zurich, Switzerland, plans to beta test their drone-based home security system halfway through 2017.
Like conventional security technology, the Sunflower Home Awareness System is designed to detect possible intruders. Smart lights in the ground pick up on vibrations, and the system discerns whether they were produced by an animal, vehicle, or person. It can also tell the difference between threatening visitors and trustworthy people like mail carriers, based on their behavior.
What sets Sunflower Labs’s product apart is the drone feature. After sensing a suspicious character, the system contacts the homeowner through his or her smartphone and asks if they’d like to deploy the drone. The onboard camera records the source of the disturbance from 30 feet above, allowing users to judge if it’s worth notifying the police. The startup hopes this aspect of the system will limit the rate of false alarms.
Like any company looking to launch drones on U.S. soil, Sunflower Labs has a lot of legal hoops to jump through. As of August, the Federal Aviation Administration made it illegal for commercial drones to fly autonomously. That’s the reason why companies like Domino’s have been forced to take their drone technology ideas overseas. But because these security drones will be used by homeowners for non-business purposes, the team believes they should have no trouble passing for recreational drones.
Sunflower Labs plans to sell the system for $160 per light and $800 per drone when it’s made available next year. Customers who reserve the security system early will receive a $100 discount when it’s shipped.