The Bee drone returns to its charging cradle due to an ingenious conical pad. Image:Sunflower Labs

Sunflower Labs launches high-end home security system

Equipment & systems Security • law enforcement • countermeasures

Sunflower Labs, a startup founded in 2016 with offices in San Francisco and Zurich, will be launching a sophisticated subscription-based outdoor home security system featuring an autonomous c-drone for the high-end residential market.
The system features three components:

  • “Bee” — an autonomous camera-equipped quadricopter programmed to survey a property while avoiding obstacles
  • “Hive” — a doghouse-sized recharging shed which houses and recharges the Bee drone
  • “Sunflowers” — garden lighting posts, each with multiple motion and vibration sensors, but without cameras for privacy

The Sunflower sensors work together to identify people, animals, and vehicles, and are able to distinguish unusual from habitual behaviors, which is said to greatly reduce false positives. If an intruder is detected, the shed opens, the drone takes off, an alert is sent to the homeowner’s smartphone (on or off site) or monitoring service, and the drone flies over the intruder as indicated by one or more of the sensors in succession. With an overhead view, even at night, the homeowner or monitoring service can rapidly appraise the situation and decide whether or not to summon police.

The Bee c-drone, which has 15 minutes of flight time for 30 minutes charging time, is preprogrammed to avoid filming beyond the perimeter of the property. The company says sites up to 6 acres (2.4 hectares) can be monitored. Upon return to the conical cradle of the Hive, the overhead doors close and the drone recharges via a conductive charging ring aligned underneath the drone’s motors. The system, which will be subscription-based with replacement of broken hardware, monitors the weather and allows launch in moderate rain and wind, up to 30mph (50 km/h) and sustained gusting to 40 mph (65 km/h). The smartphone app will allow manual flying to a designated point, for example to inspect roof gutters.

Investors include General Catalyst, Stanley Ventures (the innovation unit of Stanley Black & Decker), angel investor and CEO of Sourcenext Nori Matsuda, and Phil Libin, CEO and cofounder of startup incubator All Turtles and former CEO of Evernote.

The company is registering reservations while it negotiates with manufacturing partners. Price range and shipping dates for the US or other countries are not yet available.