This is Aire, a cylindrical version of Darth Vader’s interrogation droid–but nice, and without needles. Basically, it’s a $700 radar-based flying robot that travels around your home toting a 360-degree panoramic camera, a mic, and speaker with Amazon Alexa assistant technology. It’s an anomaly detector for surveillance and security, and it uses a “patented noise-reduction technology.” I don’t know exactly what they patented, though, because this sounds like a floating vacuum cleaner to me.
And that’s precisely what hampers the designers’ claim that “Aire re-imagines personal home robotics.” They say that their floating thingamajig is a “high-tech robot that also [functions] as a family-friendly, lifestyle product. [Its] simple silhouette gives a subtly aerodynamic and buoyant feel to the robot and visually mimics the inner duct contours that are key to creating lift and stability in flight. The soft fabric exterior shell trims the overall device weight further, helps reduce prop noise, and allows Aire to slot seamlessly into a domestic environment.”
But it’s hard to see how. The video shows that Aire is way too noisy to coexist in a home. I can easily imagine having to stop the movie I’m watching when this sleek version of V.I.N.CENT starts its surveillance round. I can imagine my baby screaming every time it flies into his room. I can imagine my dog barking like crazy, chasing it around the hallway, trying to tear it apart. But in truth, I can really imagine this nowhere but the apartment of some Google interns in Mountain View, flying through canyons of empty pizza boxes and ramen packs. If you live in that apartment, you can Kickstart Aire here. You should also clean your living room, Steve.
Don’t get me wrong. I love the idea of a robot that flies. One that is smart enough to know what to do on its own. One that can truly assist me and watch over my baby and my dog and tell my 10-year-old to clean his room unless he wants to be poked with Imperial needles. But for that to happen, we’ll need either truly ultra-silent propellers that don’t disturb everyone in the house or some sort of anti-gravity engine that doesn’t exist yet.