The follow-me mode in this drone is like a scary, fanatical personal assistant

Like Alexa, but with perks.

breeze lifestyle 14
Credit: Yuneec

Someday, we'll all have a personal assistant who is always just a voice prompt away.

A bit like Alexa or the Assistant on the Google Home speaker, but more like the bot in the movie Her, this “always on” servant will work in the car, when we’re at work, walking in a park on a sunny day, and at home. It won’t be a speaker that sits on the desk. Instead, it will be an ever-vigilant presence. It will follow you like a bodyguard at a Beyonce meet-up.

The problem is that we haven’t quite invented it yet. For an ever-present bot to work, it would have to know our location at all times. It wouldn’t be on our phone, because we won’t carry phones in the future. The bot would just “exist” in space. At work, the bot would know we’re in a conference room or at our desks. It might work through a gadget, the speakers in the room, or on a television but it will also work through the entertainment system in our cars. The device won’t matter. It will just work. The important part of the equation is not related to the gadget or speaker we’re using, but our location.

You can get a taste for what this is like now using the Yuneec Breeze drone. I tested the $499 model without the optional controller or video goggles. On my phone, I selected an option for the drone to follow me at all times. (I also tested all of the other modes for snapping high-res photos, shooting 4K videos and performed a few high-flying stunts.) The Breeze uses collision avoidance tech to make sure it avoids obstacles, and it will constantly turn to look at you. When you move, the drone moves.

The feature has been around a while, but I’ve never found it to work so easily. The Breeze doesn’t require that you go through a complex GPS syncing process (which is true with other drones). In fact, you can start the drone in your hand and launch it into the sky. In one minor crash, the drone literally bounced back to life.

With the follow-me mode enabled, you start to see how this will work in the future. Once the drone is airborne, you feel a bit creepy, as though a digital assistant is mimicking your every move. And, honestly, that's just fine. You can’t talk to the drone (yet) but you could easily imagine how that will work in the near future:

“Drone, what is the weather going to be like?”

“Drone, fetch me a water…”

“Drone, tell my wife I’ll be home by 5PM tonight…”

None of this is remotely possible, of course. The big advantage here is that you won’t have to use a phone. You can skip charging it. Eventually, drones will fly home to recharge or even swap out their own battery. The digital assistant, similar to Alexa, will be constantly listening to you.

And, as I mentioned, even the drone will be optional. In the future, a bot will travel with us in the cloud and work through multiple devices to the point where we won’t think about the device at all anymore, or carry one,m or charge one. It will be completely headless and invisible. Yet, the assistant could be a drone -- and I hope that’s the case.

Forget the Amazon Prime Air drone that only delivers packages. This bot will fetch packages, then serve as an assistant. It will interact with other bots and drones, and maybe even warn us about dangers.

When will it happen? Yuneec, get busy working on that.

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