When a sensor detects a problem within a factory a human worker is usually sent to investigate. But that may not be the case for much longer if a startup that makes internet-connected drones takes off. 

CyPhy Works, a US company from Boston, Massachusetts, plans to hook its camera-equipped LVL 1 drones up to Cisco’s DevNet platform so they can complete tasks traditionally done by people in everything from factories to shops.  

The drone was demoed to attendees of Cisco Live in San Diego this week ©Cisco

Helen Greiner, CEO and cofounder of CyPhy Works, said: “This is for consumers today but the next generation will be integrated with DevNet.”

This means that when a sensor goes off in a factory, the drone could automatically be programmed to take off and investigate. 

“The user can more easily tell it what they want it to do,” said Greiner. “If you hook it up as a node to the internet of everything and use these tools that Cisco’s building then you can programme the drone to go and investigate when a sensor goes off.” 

©Cisco

The internet-connected drones could also be used in shops to carry out inventories, added Greiner, explaining that they’d fly up and down the aisles collecting video footage that can be analysed to see what is and what isn’t on the shelves.

The company is also targeting the drones at consumers, saying they can be used to capture “glorious picture of your family vacation, the nonchalant backyard BBQ photo or the stunning 360º spin off a half-pipe.”

CyPhy Works is currently raising money on the Kickstarter crowdfunding platform for its LVL 1 drone so that it can secure the capital it needs to extend production and improve the technology. It was hoping to raise $250,000 but overwhelming investor appetite has seen the total amount raised to $649,913, nearly triple the initial target.

Unlike other drones of its kind, the LVL 1 can be flown through a mobile phone app. CyPhy Works also claims that the LVL 1 is far more stable than many other drones on the market. 

“Other multi-rotor drones have to tilt in order to move,” the company’s Kickstarter page reads. This creates swaying motion in the video which requires elaborate, expensive, and fragile mounts in order to stabilise. Worse, because in these drones the camera— the most expensive part of the drone— is the closest to the ground, any hard landings hit the camera first.

“Our drone never tilts, allowing it to snap perfect pictures and stable video every time. By eliminating tilting, the drone handles intuitively, with an unrivalled out-of-the-box experience.”

Tech giants like Amazon and Facebook are also exploring how they can use drones to deliver packages to people and connect rural communities to the internet, while they have also been used by the US military to drop bombs on Afghanistan. 

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