Adam Conway may make his living as a product manager at network company Aerohive, but in college his major was robotics, so tinkering with robots is how he spends some of his free time. A couple of years ago he decided to build a drone using a quadrotor frame, and then, at the suggestion of a co-worker, he put a wi-fi router on it. The result is an unmanned aerial vehicle that can basically supply an Internet connection in a given location through the local LTE phone network. Because the router was free, it only cost Conway US$100 to build it; a purchased router would increase the cost to $200.
What’s the Big Idea?
Writer Jesse Emspak notes one scenario where a flying wi-fi router would prove useful: “[A]fter a tornado or hurricane, it would help rescue workers to have internet and phone access in places where many cell towers are down.” Unfortunately in its current state the drone can only hover for short periods, which is why Conway is considering using a more airplane-like design so that it can stay in the air longer. For now, his immediate goal “is to provide Wi-Fi service at the next company picnic.”