Our Sci-fi Future: Robotic Multicopters Follow Golfers With cameras

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Not since last year's TacoCopter fiasco has there been such a vague and ominous potential use for multicopters to hit the web. Last week, the golf company Titleist tweeted a photo of a rather monstrous multicopter with a camera hovering over the shoulder of pro golfer Scott Stallings. It looks a bit makeshift and draws more similarity to War of the Worlds than intended, no doubt, but the point of it is clear: even more camera angles to watch golfers in action.

Little else is known about the system except that it is associated with the Golf Channel and has been dubbed the "Hover Fly Aerial Camera."

golf channel drone camera

Now remote control (RC) helicopters have been used in filming golf tournaments for years, so this isn't groundbreaking news. A number of aerial photography companies are even starting to replace their helicopters with multicopters, while they wait for government regulation to ease. The FAA, which oversees the flying of drones in the US, is drafting policies for their use due to increased demand. In a recent report, the agency stated that over 50 companies and organizations are producing some 150+ unmanned aircraft and predicted that there were will be 10,000 commercial drones in the skies within the next five years.

Could multicopters end up covering tournaments or even replace the SkyCam system used in stadiums at present? Not until they get smaller and a lot quieter. Uncheck the mute button in the Vine video below to hear the beast in action:

Considering the pace of golf, it's quite possible that some day autonomous multicopters could hover above golfers and help them analyze their swing. That may seem excessive, but golf isn't necessarily a sport for the frugal, now is it?

[image: Twitter]

David J. Hill

Managing Director, Digital Media at Singularity University
I've been writing for Singularity Hub since 2011 and have been Editor-in-Chief since 2014. My interests cover digital education, publishing, and media, but I'll always be a chemist at heart.

Discussion — 6 Responses

  • Robert Schreib March 30, 2013 on 2:37 pm

    ?? Couldn’t they simply equip a small blimp with a smartphone camera and have it fly and hover over the golfers SILENTLY?

    • arpad Robert Schreib March 31, 2013 on 8:53 am

      Only if there’s no wind. Any breeze will move a lighter-then-air craft. Then they’ve either got to be tethered or they’ve got to have motors. There goes your SILENTLY.

      And tethers aren’t without problems either. They have weight which means the blimp has to lift the tethers meaning it’s got to be bigger and more expensive.

      This article doesn’t get into various sound-reduction ideas since, being pretty new on the scene, multi-rotors haven’t been pushed in the direction of stealthiness. At least not in the civilian sector. What DARPA’s doing is, of course, anyone’s guess.

  • failcake March 30, 2013 on 4:09 pm

    Who else read “gophers” and is disappointed?

    • markharrison failcake March 31, 2013 on 8:40 am


      I had the same disappointment 🙂

      Though I think ‘golphers’ was a great word while it lasted.

  • vmagna March 31, 2013 on 10:33 am

    I see the next use as these drones follow the ball up close with camera after its hit

  • Even Steven April 7, 2013 on 6:44 pm

    Damn thing is so noisy I see hackers devising ways to make it fall out of the sky without a trace of evidence pointing to the perp. Matter of fact, I might be one of them.