Man Tracks Children Using A Quadcopter


Instead of walking his kid to the bus stop like he used to, [Paul Wallich] lets this quadcopter watch his son so he doesn’t have to. It is quite literally an automated system for tracking children — how wild is that?

The idea came to him when wishing there was a way to stay inside the house during the winter months while still making sure his kid got to the bus stop okay. [Paul] picked up a quadcopter kit and started looking at ways to add monitoring. He found the easiest technique was to include a cellphone and watch via a video chat app. But that is only part of the build as he would still have to fly the thing. After searching around he found a beacon that can be placed in the backpack. It has a GPS module, an RF modem, and runs a stripped down Python scripting shell. Whenever the GPS data changes (signaling his son is on the move) it uplinks with the quadcopter and gives it the new coordinates.

This goes a long way to making your family a police state. May we also recommend forcing the children to punch a time clock?

[via: theGrue]

65 thoughts on “Man Tracks Children Using A Quadcopter

  1. The title sounds really creepy, sounds like he is some sort of pedophile. I am not trolling, just reading the title sounds like something you would hear off a news site that often reports about murders and such.

    1. Exactly. Not just creepy but misleading, as it only tracks a single child wearing a GPS beacon.

      It would be trivial to add a second, fixed beacon at the home and implement some rudimentary DGPS, which may improve accuracy enough to automatically navigate that tree-edged driveway it currently has problems with.

      Now I’m waiting to see a “LEGO RPG” build. ;)

  2. I wonder if I could adapt this to track extreme sports riders? I’ve been looking for a cheap way to do just this. Follow mountain bikers etc or film myself without having a TX in hand.

    1. What a cool spin on the idea. I wonder how accurate the gps is and if you could have it project where you’re going and try to get some head on shots from a certain altitude.

    1. Yeah, no kidding. All this enables the paranoid parent to do is watch occur whatever horrible fate he’s afraid will befall his child in the lawless wilds between his house and the bus stop.

    2. Well at least if some crook attacks your kid I reckon the quadcopter would be pretty effective at making a few cuts here and there.

      Cons: Those cuts may or may not be on the crook.

      But yeah I vote for walking the kid to the bus, if only to prove what you’re making your son go through is actually reasonable. There’s something to be said against making kids do things that the adults would consider too much for themselves.

        1. Is it ever, I have yet to see a quad like that. Nevermind the algorithm that compensates for the recoil of the gun. Oh and one more thing – how are you going to run a recon mission in under 15min? I do see these coming down the line in the future no doubt but science needs to make a lot of advancements first…

      1. Especially when the parent says that it is too cold for them, then forced their kid to walk the entire way. When it was cold here (southwestern Pennsylvnia), it got REALLY cold. Whoever was waiting with me and my sister for the bus would always start the car to keep us warm, even if they weren’t going anywhere that day.

        This? This is just laziness and apathy, even if it does include a quadcopter..

        1. Maybe they could only afford one set of winter clothes, you with the economy being what it is and all that. I would definitely send my kids to school guarded by a quadcopter.

          Battery is a problem, but I only live ~400m from the school there, so it just a matter of choosing between avoiding lamp posts, hangover lamps, people and buildings or hoovering ~30m-50m above street level. I’m guessing low altitude is better for batteries.

          But the worst problem is that it uses a quadcopter.. Those things are hellish to use.

  3. Someone wants to become worst dad of the year, I guess. In the write-up he says, the the bus stop is 400m away. That makes a 5 minutes walk. So the build ensures, that the father doesn’t have to get out for 10 minutes. This is ridiculous.

  4. Someone wants to become worst dad of the year, I guess. In the write-up he mentions that the bus stop is 400m away, which is a 5 minutes walk. So this build just ensures that the father doesn’t have to get out for 10 minutes. This is ridiciulous.

  5. Well I guess he’ll have a nice video showing how he failed as a parent if something happens to the kid. He can keep watching it to remind himself that it was his fault for being too damn lazy to walk his kid to the bus.

    1. considering that the quadcopter follows the kid with gps and such, I think it would actually help alot if something wrong did happen, he would have a constant gps location of his child, the QC would still follow the child and he has a video feed. zoom in and get pics and forward to the police. this might become the norm in a few years. did you think that there could be mobility problems for the man? no everyone just thinks the worst. You have no idea of this persons life, so dont be so quick to judge.

      1. Well, if the guy has some kind of really serious problem that make impossible to him to go outside it’s a okay thing. But if you can go outside, don’t matter how, it is much better to go with your children than to track them with a machine. This seems a form of escapism from parenthood to me.

    1. “…” That’s fine for you. I searched on “How to improve my typing skills” and suddenly, I’m being surveiled by a quad-copter (that is sporting an insignia consisting of an all-seeing-eye on top of a pyramid scheme)! Is it the IRS? I can’t be my dad, he’s dead.

      …. or IS he? Dad?

      With all of the comments on how dangerous it is to not walk your kids (not to mention just plain bad parenting), it seems his next mod would be to mount a weapons system, and also a hologrpahic projector to surround the copter with his visage, looking on protectively.

      Yeah? Creepiness factor?

  6. All I keep thinking is that this hack is selfish. I’m glad my dad walked me to the bus stop in the warm months and the cold ones. Hopefully you at least built this with your children.

  7. Additional creep factor:

    Who says it has to be *your* kid you’re surveilling? We now have an unexpected new way to spy on other people as well … and peep in their windows with the camera rolling (my new RC helo has a tiny video/audio camera built into it).

    Proliferation of this may have undesirable consequences.

    1. He is unaware of rotor dynamics.

      If you have a rotor spinning on a body, the tendency of that body is to spin in the opposite direction which is why helicopters have a side mounted rotor. His two side mounted rotors indicates that he has all of his rotors spinning in the same direction.

      The side mounted rotor can however be set vertical if it is spinning in the opposite direction of the first rotor and is the same size and weight thereby opposing the tendency of the body to spin.

  8. Instead of making up ways to monitoring your kid on his/her way to the school, you could start doing something about the reasons in your society for which you HAVE to monitor your kid…
    -Random finnish guy. Who, like everyone else in my school, walked alone ~2 km to school since 1st grade.

    … But impressive build, nonetheless.

  9. idk. maybe he lives in a really “safe” place. cool hack at least. I rode the bus or walked or rode my bike to school from 3rd grade on up until I was old enough to drive. No parent involved. They were long gone to work when I left for school. If its a 5 minute walk to a bus stop then he is likely pretty rural anyway. About the only “safe” havens left.

  10. Please read the actual article first before criticising the builder. It’s not in operation, he still escorts his son the old-fashioned way (i.e., in person), and it’ll probably continue to be that way.

  11. The smart way to do it is with waypoints that are dynamically handled based on sensor collisions using altimeter and sonar. Like someone else said though, it’s limited by the cell…

  12. I can see four potential problems with this.

    1. The props are spinning and sharp. There is the potential of it crashing into and injuring either his own child or someone Else’s child.
    2. This could be construed as child neglect which is child abuse.
    3. Harry (Harry’s law) pulling out her shotgun and blowing the thing out of the sky.
    4. It may very well be legal for the government to use drones to track people, while at the same time being illegal for private citizens to track people using drones.

    Yep, there’s some definite issues with this device.

  13. Title Fail. Sounds like a pedophile dream. How about, “Man uses quadcopter to babysit (his) child(ren)”. See, creepiness factor is -17 compared to the previous title. It still registers +5 above neutral, but still… I’m just saying.

    Addressing the legalities of Child Tracking, if a man can’t track his own children (using non-implanted tags), then what’s this world coming to!? Of course, the implantable tags have certain benefits. But the video monitoring while indoors, that would have a rising creepiness factor.

    1. Your naivete on enacted, nonsensical laws is astounding.

      If you want to know what this world is coming to, read the book of revelation in the Bible. My understanding of it is; in a nutshell: God taking over the world! (insert dramatic chord progression)

      Just because you think it’s OK, does not mean it is OK. It’s like those obscure laws on the books that we sometimes hear about. Anytime I hear or read about one of those laws I wonder what were people doing that caused the passage of that law.

      Here’s a tidbit you may not be aware of. If an individual becomes unable to do their job, they are not necessarily disabled. If you take 6 years to try and retrain for a job and then find out that you won’t be able to do it, you will not qualify for disability because there is a 5 year limitation. That limitation is 5 years after you stopped working, not 5 years from the time you could not work. So if an unemployed person becomes disabled, they may not qualify for disability despite the fact that they had been forced by law to pay for disability insurance throughout their working life.

      You see, stupid, nonsensical laws do get passed. So instead of the aforementioned individual receiving the help he or she needs to get back to health and subsequently work, they are disqualified and not helped. Pretty stupid way of doing things.

  14. In other news: man gives house keys to pizza delivery guy so he doesn’t have to get up from the couch … Also totally unrelated: obesity rates in North America are on the explosive rise.

  15. I wonder if he realises he’s violating FAA standards. AC 91-57 says “Select an operating site that is of sufficient distance from populated areas. The selected site should be away from noise sensitive areas such as parks, schools, hospitals, churches, etc.”

    I’d say there are rules around operating out of line-of-sight too.

  16. Sigh. No, we can’t delete the rhetoric. We’d have to delete lots and lots of drivel. Pull up a stool, get some popcorn, and enjoy it. Or skip it. Or ignore it. Or write another reply. It’s all cool. Now, about the whole creepiness factor… (I’m sure there’s an algebraic formula that would work, using an arduino to mine solcial sites and “rising populatrity” searches from Google…)

  17. And, I’m just saying, once your daughter gets old enough to date, a tracking quad-coptor with video and full two-way audio capabilities — and a taser — would be pretty attractive.

  18. When Amazon, Google, UPS, etc start needing drone pilots, technicians, and programmers, this guy can submit a resume. Those of you who cast shade on him for wanting to explore viable uses of a somewhat recently affordable technology, well, you can just keep working at Wal-Mart or the convenience store…

    Is it useless? No. It’s not fully featured yet, but applications drive interest… so in 20 years from now, when your kid can be seen from door->bus->school->classroom->bus->front door, you will have this gentleman in part to thank for that, even if it isn’t done with quadcopters – he demonstrated interest.

    Technology that makes physical, property, or violent crime more difficult to get away with is great – with careful management of its allowed use.

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