Automaker Ford has patented a “vehicle-integrated drone” that is programmable and can automatically deploy from cars and trucks in emergencies and fly either autonomously or under pilot control to illuminate accident scenes with lights and sirens, stream photos and video, boost emergency communication, and enhance navigation. The law enforcement applications are obvious, but so are those aimed at rural users of unimproved roadways who need to see the road ahead or who travel in areas of spotty/nonexistent cell service.
Ford research manager John Luo and scientist Adi Singh described the company’s drone raison d’etre, “We think many of our customers will want to use these [drone] devices as part of their lifestyle, whether to pursue hobbies or even as a tool for their business—no different than how they use an F-150 [pickup] or Transit [van] on a job site. By conducting in-house research in this emerging area while simultaneously participating in the regulatory conversation at the federal level, Ford is laying the groundwork to make sure our vehicles can deliver the right experiences to our customers as we transition to a smart world.”
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