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This Autonomous Camera Drone Can Follow Your Face

Hover Camera is small, safe, smart — and a little scary.

Posted on April 26, 2016, at 8:42 a.m. ET

This is the (not particularly creatively titled) Hover Camera.

Jeff Barron / BuzzFeed

It's the first product from Zero Zero Robotics, a Chinese company founded by two Stanford grads that hopes to bring autonomous devices into our homes.

Hover Camera is a tiny, self-flying drone with an onboard 4K camera.

Jeff Barron / BuzzFeed

Weighing just 240 grams, the device is just small enough to avoid the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration's drone registration requirements.

It's also portable. You can fold it, making it even smaller still.

Jeff Barron / BuzzFeed

The whole thing is encased in a carbon fiber frame that makes it look a little like an airborne cafeteria tray when it's flying. But this enclosure also makes the Hover Camera's propellers nearly impossible to touch. While we weren't able to test it extensively, it did appear to be safer (and sturdier) than the average quadcopter.

While airborne, the Hover Camera can be piloted via smartphone app ...

Jeff Barron / BuzzFeed

... or programmed to follow someone's face.

Jeff Barron / BuzzFeed

In the case above, "someone's face" was my face. And the drone was most certainly following it. Frankly, it was a little unsettling.

While there are other drones capable of following a subject autonomously, like the Lily Camera and the Airdog, most require the person being followed to wear an accessory (a GPS wristband, for example). The Hover Camera requires no such help. It follows your face, which, to reiterate, is unsettling. It is not hard to imagine a dystopian future in which — after a few bad decisions — we are begging for mercy from the next-generation Hover Cameras that have just successfully and savagely hunted us down.

Thankfully, Hover Camera is still first-generation. As a result, the video it shoots is a little lurchy.

Hover Camera

It takes pretty good pictures, though.

Hover Cam

Hover Camera may be the first autonomous drone that makes sense for the average consumer to bring home.

Jeff Barron / BuzzFeed

With its small form factor, safe casing (you can literally pluck it from the air), and autonomous flying feature, it's a drone whose appeal might extend beyond hardcore drone enthusiasts.

Unfortunately, Hover Camera is not yet available for purchase; Zero Zero Robotics hasn't even set a price for it yet. Currently, the only way to get one is to register for the Hover Camera beta testing program here.

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.