According to Eighty Nine Robotics:
By connecting to the Internet, Rook allows you to control and view the camera stream from your phone in real-time. Just connect Rook to your home Wi-Fi network, and use it as a platform for different needs in your life:
- Flying security camera
- Sensing device integrated into your smarthome suite
- Pet monitor or baby/nanny/family cam
- Video tour of your home
- See whether you turned off the stove, locked the front door, or where you left your wallet
Now the concept is intriguing, and it’s gotten lots of press, everywhere from Inc. to the Discovery Channel, but here is the problem … the Rook, when used as designed, does not comply with current FAA regulations. Why? When you remote control your Rook, you are most likely operating outside of a “visual line of sight,” and according to the FAA, that’s a problem.
Here is the pertinent bit from the FAA. It comes from the “Do I need approval from the FAA to fly a model aircraft for recreation or hobby?” area of the Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Frequently Asked Questions (I’ve bolded the relevant bits).
Do I need approval from the FAA to fly a model aircraft for recreation or hobby?
No, but your aircraft must be registered if it weighs more than 0.55 lbs. FAA guidance also says that model aircraft should be flown a sufficient distance from populated areas and full scale aircraft, should be kept within visual line of sight of the operator, should weigh under 55 lbs. unless certified by an aeromodeling community-based organization, and cannot be used for business purposes.
Personally, I think the Rook is an interesting idea, but I find myself a little confused on the real-world use cases. I’m also very surprised that it was developed under the current FAA regulations. Why build a design, manufacturer and sell a drone that breaks the rules the second you really “use” it?
About Eighty Nine Robotics
Started by students of Northwestern University, Eighty Nine Robotics is a team of talented young entrepreneurs who love making things that people love. We are a robotics startup that makes the world’s first distantly controlled, mass market drone. We want to cross the chasm between drone early adopters and the mainstream market. In 2014, we were looking at existing drones in the market and were frustrated that none of them could be used remotely. We wished we could fly a drone around our house when we were away, and the idea for Rook was born.