Security takes flight

by Andy Bryenton

If you thought that unmanned aerial recon vehicles were something from a spy thriller or the latest military conflict, you’d be correct. Little drones with a powerful camera that can support facial-recognition programs and adapt to their environment so as not to waste time buzzing around the good guys are out there in the field. Now they’re out there on rooftops in suburbia, too.

The issue with static camera systems is that they record all the time, they can’t get the right angle to identify hooded or heavily clothed burglars, and they can be ‘cased out’ and eliminated with a dab of spray paint by truly determined thieves. Not so the Sunflower Labs ‘bee’ system, which takes drone technology and sensor lighting to a new level.

The system, developed by an American company made up of software geniuses, and electrical engineering inventors situates many small garden lights around the property, linked to a central computer called ’The Hive’.

The James Bond trickery begins when these sensors begin to learn the routines of the household, identifying the difference between cars, pets and people — so they know when it’s a stranger calling instead of one of the family. Vibration and motion sensors light up the ‘sunflowers’ around the activity.

If it really is an intruder, the next phase is deployed. The ‘Bee’ is an advanced drone quadcopter, which flies by ultrasonics like a bat. It is designed to autonomously avoid obstacles and acquire good, crisp footage of the face of whoever has come unexpectedly calling, without filming neighbouring properties to preserve the privacy of others. Of course, the scene is well-lit by the sunflower lamps all around. Imagine the shock of trying to stealthily enter a home when you are confronted by a flying high-definition camera. That’s quite a deterrent! When it’s done, the Bee goes back to its Hive to recharge and upload video.

While the system is still in its final testing stages, there’s a buzz about this robotic bee and its implications for home security. Hundreds of people have already signed up to install a Sunflower system as soon as it’s green-lit, and it won’t be long before it comes to New Zealand, we’re sure.