ZANO: a tiny drone that tries to think on its own

If you have had nightmares of dozens, if not hundreds, of intelligent drones swarming towards you, then perhaps ZANO is a nightmare come true, at least to some extent. The brain child of Torquing Group in the UK, ZANO is a nano drone smaller or just as small as the palm of your hand. It's small enough to take with you anywhere and whip out in an instant for a splendid shot. And it's smart enough to know where its going. All you really need is your smartphone.

The next advancements in drone development focus on autonomous flight, that is, letting the drone itself decide how and where to best fly given your standing orders. It isn't complete self-autonomy or self-determination, so you can put that image of an army of drones out of your head. For now. Like many other drones aiming for autonomous flight, ZANO can avoid obstacles on its path, thanks to a plethora of sensors crammed inside that minuscule shell.

You don't even need to set it on a predetermined path. ZANO uses a virtual tether system to determine where it's going next. This means that it is always aware of two things: its current location and its location in relation to your smartphone. This means that you can let it follow you along like an obedient pet, and it will perform all the routing and course correction itself. You can even set it not to follow you too closely.

Another special control feature is that you can control ZANO with simple gestures of your device. Tilting your phone left or right also makes ZANO go in that direction. Of course, you can also have more direct control of ZANO's directions using your device as a joystick. In case ZANO detects that it is too far from you or if it's running out of battery, it will automatically return to its base, which is your smartphone or tablet.

Interested? Well, ZANO is currently still in a Kickstarter stage, with Torquing Group looking for larger volumes of backers to push production prices down. For now, an early bird pledge of 139 GBP, around $218, will get you a white or black ZANO, which comes with a built-in 5 megapixel HD camera. When the tickets run out, it will go up to 189 GBP or almost $300. As for that swarming feature, which lets you control multiple ZANOs with a single device, it will only come when the campaign hits its 2,000,000 GBP stretch goal, which is definitely quite a stretch.

SOURCE: Kickstarter