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Working from home? Google has patented a drone for videoconferencing.

The nimble aircraft could be equipped with a screen or a projector for videoconferencing.


This post has been updated.

Google has an idea for a different way to do a remote videoconference than those iPads on stands that roll around. Last year the company patented a small “telepresence” drone for collaborating with colleagues from remote locations, according to an application that was updated today.

The drone is designed to fly indoors and move from room to room. A typical telepresence robot 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.

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.

In the updated patent, the screen system attached to the aircraft adjusts itself to maintain an aerodynamic position as it flies, as well as projection system that can sense when the image is distorted to self-correct accordingly.

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.

It’s important to remember, though, that just because Google has patented something doesn’t mean it will ever become a product. Still, for companies like Google, where people on the same team are working in different cities across the world, a novel, more collaborative, and less cumbersome video conferencing solution could be a welcome improvement.

Update: Google first received a patent for this design last August. This was a continuation from a previous patent application.

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