ComPANions – a trio of pet drones

The comPANions is a collective name for a trio of friendly drones, whose aim is to explore the relationship humans can form with autonomous drones. Combining computer vision and artificial intelligence, the drones can interpret your gestures and mood. They communicate through movements and the propeller pitch. The ComPANions evolve and adapt to your needs. They form emotional-like bonds and engage its users to trustworthy relationships. The utilities they provide are countless. They can guide you to places, keep you on the right track whilst hiking, take photos of you and protect you in uncomfortable situations – to name a few.

The ComPANions was developed as part of the course «Media Technology: Theory and Development» in the autumn of 2020, by Abel Van Beek, Sunniva Lode Storhaug and Liva Snilstveit Hoem. Below you can find three essays associated with the prototype, in addition to a demo.

Walden – A drone in the woods

By Abel Van Beek

This essay explores the attainment of a meaningful life in a world with modern technology with a focus on acceptance of technology and the implications of this choice. Additionally, it sheds light on the perspective of philosopher of technology Albert Borgmann and propounds questions related to the persistence of fulfilling practices in a society in thrall to technology.

Gaia – The great mother drone

By Sunniva Lode Storhaug

This essay explores how social drones with imbued parental instincts can accompany and protect humans. It addresses how such drones can provide companionship, support and protection in both personal and societal use cases, as well as it highlights important dilemmas related to this technology.

Exploring drones as pets – challenging the idea of what a pet can be

By Liva Snilstveit Hoem

This essay explores autonomous drones as provocative design cases, focusing on autonomy, emotions and social interactions.  In light of information about provocative prototyping, cybernetic machines and human-drone interaction, this essay takes on a discussion about how the concept of pets can be challenged and how drones are perceived in society. It also presents the interesting proposal that in the future, drones might be superior to the pets we know and love today.

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