Would You Trust A Dog-Walking Drone?

A British online retailer is releasing a dog-walking drone based on DJI's Phantom 4. Would you trust it?

The Washington Post / Getty Images

DronesDirect, a British online retailer, is reportedly releasing an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) designed to walk your dog. This drone will be based on DJI's Phantom 4 drone, and will apparently cost around £2,000, or ca. $2,600. According to The Sun, the drone will have a retractable leash embedded and obstacle-detection technology as to avoid any accidents involving your pet.

First of all, this sounds equal parts preposterous and shockingly unsurprising. We've seen how drone culture has grown and spread into all sorts of everyday activities, from drone surfing to mobile billboards to tree planting. Why not dog walking? Surely, this would allow for vast amounts of 20-somethings to kick back while their DJI Phantom 4 does all the work. It really wouldn't be that surprising to see dozens of drones walking dogs in parks all over Brooklyn.

Now, The Sun may not be the most reputable newspaper in the world, but it seems as though it has done its research, garnering some convincing quotes from DronesDirect's marketing manager, Mark Kelly.

"This handy piece of tech means dogs have a companion by their side whilst getting the exercise and enjoying the fresh outdoor air they so desperately need on a daily basis," Kelly said.  This is a one-of-a-kind canine companion, which we are delighted to offer to all dog lovers." 

As far as companions go, it's not entirely convincing that dogs will be satisfied by a whirring machine flying overhead as much as they are by their owner's company and care. But he's trying to market something here, so his statements make a bit more sense from that perspective. How would this DJI Phantom 4-based UAV work? According to The Sun, all you'd need is a smartphone and a pre-determined route for the drone to follow. Kelly claims that this would free up significant chunks of time for those of us too busy to care for our dogs. "The launch of the innovative Dog Drone is a great alternative for pet owners who lead busy lives by giving the option of hands-free walking," he says. 

We suppose that this all boils down to what kind of dog owner you are. Do you trust your dog walker more than your drone? Would you put your dog's life in the hands of a machine that could potentially fly off into the heavens, attached to your dog by its leash? All sorts of scenarios come to mind, and it's not entirely sure how safe or, to be frank, sane this proposal is. We'll just have to wait and see how the first few prototype dog walks go. Some video evidence of this working safely would be a good start, for example.