Working from home? Google wants to create a drone to go to a meeting with you

April Glaser
Getty Images

Google is hoping to patent a small videoconferencing "telepresence" drone for collaborating with colleagues from remote locations, according to an application that was made public today.

The drone is designed to fly indoors and move from room to room. A typical telepresence robot, which often amounts to an iPad mounted to a roving stand, can't go up stairs and is difficult to navigate in the unpredictable floor plans that are typical of large tech companies, the application says.

Google suggests a telepresence system on a quadcopter drone could be much more agile for moving around the room, take up less space, consume less energy and provide an experience that's more engaging overall than a ground-based robot.

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The patent application describes an aircraft that has an H-shaped frame, a structure Google says may prove more capable of carrying a rotating screen and still be constructed from lightweight materials. The drone may also carry a projection system for beaming images from the remote pilot onto walls or surfaces in the room, as well as an audio system for voice communication between participants.

Although Google primarily describes the drone as a way for colleagues to collaborate when not working from the same place, the company also writes about how it could be used by "a medical professional consulting with a patient and/or another medical professional at a different location" or "an instructor providing instruction to students at remote locations."

The application shows how a smartphone can be docked to the drone and used for the onboard processing and control of the aircraft, as well as the drone's audio and video functions.

By April Glaser,

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