The “missing” signs on telephone poles aren’t just for the furry set anymore. These days, a robotic friend is as likely to wander off as a four-footed one.
In May, a “missing drone” flyer popped up in Silicon Valley. This weekend, a Forbes reader spotted this “missing” sign on a telephone pole near the beach in San Diego’s affluent Del Mar neighborhood. Faithfully mimicking one you might see for a beloved mutt, it includes a generic photo of the Heli-max quadcopter, a description of the drone (“gray and green”), a promise of a reward, a number to call, and a name written alongside the photo: “Poseidon.” The missing device does not actually have its own name though. “That’s just the name of the restaurant where I hoped they’d bring the drone,” says Roy Loon, the drone’s erstwhile owner, who has not yet recovered it.
Loon, who works as a handyman for a nearby hotel, liked to take his drone to the beach at lunch to fly it. Loon says he’s not especially tech-savvy. A month ago, while flying the copter, he meant “to hit the return button but hit some other button and it took off.” (The Heli-max 1Si quadcopter has a “return to pilot” button to auto-fly itself back to the operator.) He says he was in a blind spot behind a lifeguard station and couldn’t see where it went. He posted a bunch of signs trying to get the “stupid $120 thing” back, but I was the first to actually call him.
Loon says the drone had a camera but did not stream video in real time, and he just liked flying it at the beach because it was fun, “not a peeping tom thing.” But if someone did find the drone, they might have made some assumptions about why it was there. A teen who was flying a drone on a beach in Connecticut recently was attacked by a woman who was offended by the swimsuit surveillance. In nearby Los Angeles, celebrating hockey fans destroyed a drone because they thought it belonged to the LAPD.
Loon says he thought about putting a beacon on the drone, and now wishes he had. He’s since moved on to model airplanes, but made sure to put his phone number on his plane. “Anything in the air is easy to lose,” he says.
It would seem so. Rather than turning to retro telephone poles, many drone owners and finders are using Craigslist to try to connect. Craigslist is littered with “lost drone” ads from across the country. In San Diego alone, one family is trying to get its hummingbird-sized drone back while another good Samaritan is trying to get a “distinctive” drone back to its owner.
If you’re a dr-owner, you might want to make sure you’ve put a collar with an identification plate on your little semi-autonomous friend.