One Beijing-based robotics company has taken "back-to-basics" design to the next level: It designed its new drone to look like an egg.
On Wednesday, PowerVision Technology Group revealed its new commercial drone, dubbed PowerEgg. With its shiny white exterior and egg-shaped frame, the drone bears a close resemblance to EVE, a character from the Pixar film "WALL-E." PowerVision calls it "the world's most intuitive" drone. But what does that mean?
"We designed PowerEgg to be the consumer drone for everyone," PowerVision chief executive officer Wally Zheng said in a press release. "It's sleek, compact and portable but also easy to operate, making it simple for anyone to launch and capture special moments on camera."
PowerEgg adopts the sleek simplicity and motion sensing capabilities that have ruled smartphone and console gaming markets for years. Its creators say the drone is flight-ready out of the box, using basic controls from a one-handed remote. Users may also control the drone with simple hand gestures.
The device is equipped with an HD camera, which can transmit real-time video from up to three miles away, and can fly continuously for about 23 minutes.
The PowerEgg comes just as drone technology approaches the mainstream. Earlier this month, the White House hosted its first-ever drone workshop, seemingly putting an end to a period of dubious legality for the fledgling technology. On Aug. 29, the Federal Aviation Administration's first-ever regulations for small commercial drones will take effect as the technology becomes more affordable, The Christian Science Monitor reported:
Drone equipment that today costs $1,000 would have cost $10,000 just three years ago, says [Ryan Wood of Rocky Mountain Unmanned Systems]. This has enabled non-pilots, often hobbyists or racers, to experiment or just play around with drones. Some high-profile incidents where drones interfered with wildfire fighting or crash-landed on the White House lawn have hurt their reputation overall.
Once considered a "renegade technology," drones are now also a source of economic promise. Economists project that the industry will generate 100,000 new jobs and $82 billion in growth over the next 10 years.
And as more affordable drone technologies drive down manufacturing prices, numbers have spiked. Analysts say there will be more than 7 million commercial drones in the US by 2020. But this drone boom may also have serious implications for cybersecurity.
Some experts worry that as commercial drones become increasingly small and sophisticated, they could be used for illegal surveillance or cyberattacks. Other researchers say drones could actually strengthen security systems.
One device, called Danger Drone, is deployed remotely by cybersecurity professionals to test Wi-Fi and Bluetooth networks outside office buildings. Using the drone, they can attempt to penetrate the networks and later patch the vulnerabilities.
"Drone tech has been advancing rapidly," David Latimer, an analyst at the cybersecurity firm Bishop Fox, told the Monitor earlier this month. "It's a lot of fun and very exciting, but it's also the next step for security research."