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Sunflower Labs’ Drone-Enabled Security System Combines AI with Advanced Drone Technology

BY Zacc Dukowitz
17 January 2020

Sunflower Labs unveiled its Home Awareness Security System at CES 2020 earlier this month.

Photo credit: Sunflower Labs

The system uses sensors placed around a property and what Sunflower Labs calls “the first autonomous residential drone” to provide intelligent surveillance and 24/7 security monitoring.

That word intelligent is what sets the Sunflower system apart from a standard security system.

Where a traditional system uses several cameras to provide visualization of different areas of a property, Sunflower’s system has sensors that can create a full map of the area and a processing center to store and analyze all the information gathered.

These sensors have the ability to distinguish between different movements and sounds, including the ability to differentiate between a person, animal, or car, which of course a static camera couldn’t do.

Sunflower Labs - Home Awareness System

Users receive real-time information about what’s happening on their property on their phone with an app that functions as the control center for the system. The app provides notifications about activity, intel on what’s happening on the property, and also allows users to launch an autonomous drone to livestream video in case they want to know more about what’s happening in a specific area.

Since the app can be used anywhere there’s WiFi, this means you could be traveling and deploy a drone to be reassured that all’s well at home. It also means that if you hear a bump in the night but don’t want to investigate yourself, you can send a drone to find out what it was.

The system also “learns and reacts to its surroundings,” allowing it to improve over time. We’re not sure exactly what that looks like, but we assume it means that if there is a possum that walks by your house every night the system learns to recognize it—and if something unusual happens, it recognizes that, too.

What about Privacy?

For years, privacy has been one of the most common concerns that comes up when people hear about anything drone-related.

So what will people think about having a drone flying around next door, filming everything it sees?

Sunflower Labs has thought of this. Alex Pachikov, CEO of Sunflower Labs, says that the drones used in their security system are geo-fenced inward, which should mean that all the footage they collect will only be of the property to which they belong.

Compare this to security cameras, which are typically mounted facing out or away from a property and have no ability to distinguish property lines, and the drone actually sounds better for privacy than the static camera.

What Comes with the Home Awareness System

Sunflower Labs’ Home Awareness System has three components:

The Sunflowers

Photo credit: Sunflower Labs

Disguised as garden lights and enabled by Artificial Intelligence, the Sunflowers contain motion and vibration sensors that constantly monitor the surrounding area. These sensors can detect and differentiate things like people, animals, and cars, and display their readings in real time on a map provided to the user.

The Bee

Photo credit: Sunflower Labs

The Bee is the drone that’s used in the security system. It can be deployed automatically and flies autonomously, providing users with quick intel on what’s happening on their property via a live visual feed. The drone has several features to enable autonomous flight, including collision-avoidance sensors, high-precision differential GPS, and a cone-shaped design made to help it land and dock easily.

The Hive

Photo credit: Sunflower Labs

The Hive is the Bee’s docking/charging system. It’s also the brains of the security system, housing a supercomputer that includes data analysis supported by an NVIDIA Jetson TX2 processor and world-class signal processing.

Who Is This For?

The Home Awareness System is not for everyone, and Sunflower Labs has been up-front about this.

We are focusing on high end residential—that’s where we had the most interest, it is a high end product.

– Alex Pachikov, CEO of Sunflower Labs

You could probably gather this fact from the price tag alone: the system is currently available for pre-order at $9,995, with a deposit of $999. It’s also pretty clear from looking at Sunflower Labs’ promotional materials that it doesn’t have a two-bedroom cottage in mind as its normal use case.

Photo credit: Sunflower Labs

And it makes sense that high-end is where Sunflower Labs would focus, since this kind of security system could be attractive if you lived on a property that’s so big you can’t see all of it by looking out your window.

If you have the means to afford that kind of property, then a ten thousand dollar security system may not sound all that expensive. As Pachikov pointed out in a recent interview with DroneLife, once your security system has more than half a dozen cameras, Sunflower Labs’ system starts being cost competitive.

But will people actually buy it?

Time will tell. Pre-orders are being collected now, and the system will be ready for actual deployment by mid-year.

We’ll certainly be curious to see how many people have installed Sunflower Lab’s system by this time next year.

What do you think of Sunflower Labs’ Home Awareness System? Share your thoughts in this thread on the UAV Coach community forum.

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