Flying surveillance robots coming soon from Aeryon

New semi-autonomous flying camera bots with police, military, industrial applications should come to market in six months, assuming it can get government approval.

Rafe Needleman Former Editor at Large
Rafe Needleman reviews mobile apps and products for fun, and picks startups apart when he gets bored. He has evaluated thousands of new companies, most of which have since gone out of business.
Rafe Needleman
2 min read

Your local police may soon be packing flying surveillance bots. At the AlwaysOn Stanford Summit, Aeryon Labs President Dave Kroetsch gave a compelling pitch on his company, which makes a two-pound robot helicopter that has enough on-board intelligence and stability control to allow it to be flown by people who just point to locations on a Google Map-based interface.

The whole kit, including a table-based control module, fits in a suitcase-sized crate and can be quickly assembled in the field. After the user snaps the flying bot together, he or she just tells it where to go by pointing to a spot on a map. The device has a motion-compensated camera that can take 5-megapixel stills and stream video back to the operator's tablet.

The Aeryon Scout and its tablet-based control computer. Aeryon

More specs: Kroetsch says the Aeryon Scout can fly in up to 30 mph winds for up to 20 minutes. It is limited to 500 feet in altitude (to fly under FAA restrictions). One kit costs $50,000.

Aeryon plans to sell to private security forces, and eventually police departments. Kroetsch is doing things in this order because it's easier to get a contract from a private firm than from a cash-strapped police department or grant-funded program at one.

Obvious other markets include construction (for site surveys), other public safety applications, and of course military.

The company is headquartered in Canada and hopes to have United States FAA approval for its flying robot within six months. Sadly, until that approval comes, the Scout is grounded Stateside. And that means no demos for reporters or buyers unless they head up to Canada.

Scout CEO Dave Kroetsch talks about his grounded spybot. Rafe Needleman/CNET