- The Asahi Power Service Company has invented a drone- and AI-powered umbrella designed to hover over people and follow them as they walk.
- It’s called the “Free Parasol.”
- The company hopes to sell it for $273 (£203) each when they launch next year.
- But because Japan has banned drones in densely populated areas, the areas they can be deployed are limited.
A Japanese company has invented an ingenious way to shelter people from the rain without having to tie up your hands.
The “Free Parasol,” developed by the Asahi Power Service Company, is a drone- and AI-powered umbrella that hovers over a person and is meant to follow them while they walk.
The company plans to sell the umbrella for 30,000 yen ($273/£203) next year, reported SoraNews24, an Asian news blog that operates out of Tokyo.
Each umbrella will be equipped with artificial intelligence software that can detect the top of the user’s head and follow them as they walk.
Here’s what it looks like now:
Although its movement is meant to be automatic, the video appears to show somebody steering it manually.
The umbrella’s current prototype is 59 inches in diameter, weighs about 5 kg (11 lbs), and has enough battery power to fly for about 20 minutes, SoraNews24 said.
It isn’t yet clear how the drone would cope with wind, which is often just as much of a problem as rain when it comes to bad weather.
Asahi Power Service plans to reduce the final version down to 1 kg (2.2 lbs) and lengthen its flight time to one hour. It will also cover its propellers with cages so it won’t accidentally injure a passerby.
Not everyone will be able to use the Free Parasol when it comes out, though. It is illegal to fly drones around densely populated areas in Japan, so the company expects to sell it for use on private properties like golf courses.