Drone Advice chats with the Founder & CEO of Sunflower Labs, Alex Pachikov, about the development of the intelligent Sunflower autonomous drone-based security system. Alex explains how the system is bringing together modern advances in robotics, autonomous navigation and AI to create a dynamic observation system that goes to where the action is on your property and follows it around. 

Sunflow Labs Team
The Sunflower Labs Team (Alex Pachikov – left)
DroneAdvice: In simplest terms, how does the system work?

Alex: The system uses advanced outdoor sensors and a flying security camera to help you know when something’s happening before it’s at your door. The system is comprised of the:

  • Sunflowers – these are placed around the home and will alert you to unusual activity and illuminate the situation.
  • Bee – the bee flies autonomously to the scene and captures precisely what’s happening. You can also direct the bee to specific locations on your property.
  • Hive – this provides a self-charging weatherproof home for the bee. When the bee’s work is done, it returns itself safely to the hive.

Here is a diagram from our website that shows how the 3 essential system components work together to help keep your home safe.

Sunflower Labs System
DroneAdvice: We’re are a big fan of the system at Drone Advice and we believe it could have very good uptake in Australia when the time is right from a regulatory standpoint.* What type of interest are you seeing for the system and where is the interest mostly coming from?

Alex: Thank you! Australia is certainly in our top list of countries. We get several requests daily, mostly for commercial uses, but some residential and agricultural interest as well. It makes perfect sense since our system is ideal for large property lots that would be hard to cover with stationary cameras.

DroneAdvice: It seems like home security (and security in general) is not an industry that has been particularly innovative over the last few decades. So it’s refreshing to see Sunflower Labs’ arrival generating – dare we say it – some buzz. What’s the key advantage of a system like this compared to traditional security measures such as a CCTV setup?

Alex: We certainly agree with this sentiment. The only exciting new thing in home security that we have seen has been the Ring doorbell. Window and door sensors, CCTV cameras and other home security products have been essentially unchanged in 30+ years.

Bee Above Tilt Photo

Our system is bringing together modern advances in robotics, autonomous navigation and AI to create a dynamic observation system that goes to where the action is on your property and follows it around. We think the fundamental difference is that our system gives you complete awareness of what is happening and acts as an active deterrent.

DroneAdvice: Do you see the size of some system components – chiefly the Hive – decreasing in size over time?

Alex: Yes, certainly. We expect the next generation to be around 20% smaller, but there is a limit to how small we can make the Bee, since it has to fight against the wind, and having some mass helps keep it stable.

The Hive

DroneAdvice: We understand that the system will likely be best suited for low to medium density areas at first due to potential concerns including noise. How noisy is the system currently and is anything being done to reduce noise levels?

Alex: Surprisingly, we have not had any noise complaints. Most of the noise is only noticeable when you are underneath the drone, but if you are 45º off and 10-15 meters away it is very quiet already. Nevertheless, there are several acoustic improvements that we plan to make, from making the props out of softer plastic, to larger shrouds to help direct the sound.

* You can learn more about the system at Sunflower Lab’s website here. You can also get email updates and a discount from Sunflower Labs when the system is available.

Disclaimer: the laws are currently very restrictive and complex when it comes to flying drones semi-autonomously and autonomously in Australia. Before making any purchasing decision, please make your own enquiries as to whether it is lawful for you to use the system in the way that you intend to use it.