Your lifelong troubles of multitasking while holding an umbrella may soon come to an end. Japanese thermoplastics company Asahi Power Service seems to have turned to unmanned aerial vehicles to create an umbrella that provides shade and eventually cover from the rain.
According to CNET, the Free Parasol is only able to keep you shaded and covered in its current form, with a waterproof component planned for the future. The UAV’s GPS reportedly tracks your position, follows you in lock-step, and protects you from the sun.
Below is a video of the product in action, courtesy of the Japanese Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun newspaper.
Minimally comprised of a DJI Mavic Pro and a standard umbrella, the $275 (30,000 yen) Free Parasol is reportedly being aimed at clients with and users on private property, such as golf courses according to CNET.
While Asahi Power Service is eager to get one of these into everyone's hands as soon as possible, regulations regarding drone use in public, and how varying these restrictions are across regions, are still a major hurdle. After all, it is illegal to fly drones in densely populated areas in Japan, according to The Japan Times.
It would be nearly impossible at this stage to legally utilize your Free Parasol in a city like Tokyo, as there are people, buildings, power lines, and signs throughout most neighborhoods. Flying above crowds is also prohibited, a law the umbrella drone might inherently violate.
Currently, the company expects to launch the product sometime in 2019. Japan recently significantly altered its beyond visual line-of-sight (BVLOS) regulations, which could indicate the government is amenable to altering hobby drone laws at some point in the future, as well. For now, Asahi Power Service will have to take a rain check.