This Home Security Drone Will Help You Tell Possums From Prowlers

A drone might be your next guard dog.

Sunflower Labs, a San Francisco-based startup, is combining motion detectors, a quadcopter and a phone app into a home security system. The Sunflower system could go on sale in 2020, according to CEO Alex Pachikov, who expects to charge wealthy customers several hundred dollars a month for the peace of mind — and replacement hardware if anything breaks. For comparison, premium security systems can cost more than $100 a month, and Sunflower says that six-camera systems can cost up to $300 per month.

“Our brand is built around dispelling the notion that you need a panic room,” Pachikov said during a meeting at his Sunflower-protected home in a suburb south of San Francisco. Sunflower’s drone system, he said, will set your mind at ease by confirming it’s a possum, not a prowler, in your backyard.

How it works

Sunflower drones are the most obvious part of the company’s system, but it actually begins with what look like sidewalk lights — “sunflowers” — that will dot your property. The lights illuminate the ground and are equipped with motion and vibration detectors. The sunflowers send alerts to a computer in the drone’s base station, which Sunflower calls “the Hive.” The computer processes the signals to distinguish footfalls from car traffic and other benign sources of noise. The motion sensors can also tell if something is tall and narrow like a human, or short and wide like a dog.

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