Up, up and away: Karl Outerbridge controls his AR Drone at Shelly Bay Field. *Photo by Sarah Lagan
Up, up and away: Karl Outerbridge controls his AR Drone at Shelly Bay Field. *Photo by Sarah Lagan

FRIDAY, MAY 11: A local businessman has high hopes for a WiFi-controlled flying device that is making itself known on the Bermuda market.

Karl Outerbridge is President of local suppliers, Outside The Box Thinking, which recently shipped in several of the new AR Drone 2.0 devices to distribute for sale in Bermuda outlets.

The drone is a quadricopter that can reach heights of over 150 feet and can be controlled through WiFi via smartphones or tablets.

It has a live feed video camera attached and footage can be streamed directly over the Internet.

While the drone is mainly marketed as a “flying video game” that can be played with other drone users via a WiFi network, Outerbridge sees huge potential benefits across many sectors of society from sport and recreation to education and even claiming insurance.

Outerbridge said: “There are all kind of positive applications that can come out of this.

“Someone from the fire service mentioned that when they had the dump fire they could have used the drone to fly up and see where all the hotspots were.

“A sports journalist could fly it, with proper permission, above a cricket game or football game or any event that is going.

“There could be a lot of business applications for it too — one company that has a lot of high antennas around the island, sees the potential to use it to view their equipment rather than having to climb up there.

“And for once in a parent’s life, that expensive iPad they bought for their child could come in handy for them.

“If a storm hits the island, they could send the drone up, take photos and video of their damaged roof, and send it directly to the insurance company.”

The AR Drone 1.0 was released in 2010 and the 2.0 model was released just this month but only now is the drone being seriously promoted on the island.

Outerbridge said he sees an educational purpose in the drone for students interested in computer programming.

He explained: “There are a lot of Apps that developers have made specifically for the drone that you can download to your handheld device and play your own games.

“The drone’s manufacturer, Parrot, had made the device in a format that is called Open Source and what it means is that any young student in Bermuda who is in to computer programming can make their own programme for that drone and then sell it on iTunes or in the Android shop.

“You might create a programme to say ‘I want you to follow my dog or make a puzzle for me or dance to music’.”

Outerbridge first deployed his drone at the Middle School Summit last week and has since been taking it around the island to get footage.

It is understood that there are a few other drone owners on the island who bought devices from the Hobby Store which stocked a limited number of them.

Outerbridge believes that if the drone takes off in
Bermuda then the island has the potential to compete in the world championships.

“There are 15 countries qualified so far and the championships and Bermuda could become one of them.

“Indirectly there is a chance to market Bermuda or allow Bermudians to meet people from other countries just by using this little devise.

“The video feed that comes in can be recorded in real time right on the iPad. And you can wirelessly transmit it to Timbuktu if you wanted to.”