Is the Jeep Drone Follow-Me Feature Useful – or Just a Marketing Gimmick?

jeep droneAt last week’s Stellantis EV Day 2021 conference, the parent company of the Jeep brand announced future technology that ranged from peer-to-peer charging to autonomous vehicles and biometric facial recognition, should you lose your keys.  Some of these technologies are real changes towards cleaner transportation – but is the Jeep drone pairing technology announced a real benefit, or just cool marketing?

The technology isn’t earth shattering.  Drones have been able to follow moving targets for years: 3DR added follow me functionality to the now-defunct Solo back in 2016.  What is a bit different with the Jeep drone follow me feature teases at the Stellantis EV Day is 2-way drone pairing: in the example shown, the feature allows dashboard integration.

The Jeep drone pairing feature has obvious entertainment value.  Combined with some the other new features – like autonomy – it fits in with the marketers efforts to present the brand as an adventure sport vehicle.  In the age of social media, adventurers almost always want to document their experience – and a drone is ideal for the purpose.

Could the new dashboard integration have commercial or public safety applications?  Absolutely – and they may be far more impressive than the Stellantis EV Day producers realize.  If the drone were equipped appropriately to meet the regulatory requirements for flight over people and moving vehicles, dashboard integration of drones could be perfect for a last mile delivery scenario that combines drones and ground-based vehicles, launching a drone from a truck parked in a neighborhood.   The car drone pairing technology could also be perfect for law enforcement and public safety applications: as seen in the Microsoft police car of the future.

The Verge called Stellantis EV Day “extremely weird” – other publications said that the presentation was short on detail.  Whether or not the Jeep drone pairing feature actually appears by 2025 remains to be seen, but the possibilities for the concept are real.

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