Asahi Power Service Co. develops drone-powered flying umbrella

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A Japanese company called Asahi Power Service Co. has developed a drone-powered flying umbrella called “Free Parasol.” The umbrella is meant to free people’s hands, and protect them from the sun in the future.

​Equipped with an artificial intelligence (AI) camera, the UAS can hover above the user’s head, and by tracking the real-time position of the user, it can follow their steps as they walk or move.

The umbrella is based on the idea that “it's bothersome to open an umbrella when your hands are full,” the company says. It is expected to enter the market by next year at a retail price of $273 dollars. Additionally, the umbrella could be put into use as early as the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics.

Currently, though, Japan has tight regulations regarding UAS, so the UAS cannot be freely used in public places due to safety concerns. With this in mind, the UAS will undergo initial testing indoors.

“Although there are some regulatory obstacles, we'll proceed with development of the drone umbrella with hopes that one day, it'll be a common sight in city streets,” says Asahi Power Service Co.’s CEO Kenji Suzuki, via CGTN.

Made of meshed canopy, the prototype umbrella can be stabilized in the air via wind generated from the drone’s propeller. The current prototype measures approximately 59 inches in diameter, weighs about 11 pounds, and can fly for 20 minutes.

The final version of the umbrella is expected to fly longer—one hour—and be completely human-free, as the current version still needs the touch of a person under certain circumstances.