Commerce giant Amazon’s smart security division, Ring, has launched a home security drone called the “Always Home Cam” designed to monitor for intruders.
The $249 (£195) drone activates when a house owner is out and will automatically respond to unwelcome guests and provide “multiple viewpoints” sent to an app on the home-owners mobile phone.
Amazon’s drone was announced at the company’s annual hardware event and was released alongside several products including a new gaming service called Luna and a security system for vehicles.
The company’s latest security drone technology is already drawing criticism from campaigners, who say that it is the company’s “most chilling home surveillance product” yet.
Silkie Carlo, from Big Brother Watch, told the BBC: “It’s difficult to imagine why Amazon thinks anyone wants flying internet cameras linked up to a data-gathering company in the privacy of their own home.
“It’s important to acknowledge the influence that Amazon’s product development is having on communities and the growing surveillance market.”
Amazon said that the security of users was an important part of the drone’s development and that privacy had been at the “top of mind” in its production.
Leila Rouhi, president of Ring, commented: “It only reports when it’s in motion, and when it’s not in motion it actually sits in a dock where it’s physically blocked from even being able to report. In addition to that, it’s built to be loud, so it’s really privacy that you can hear.”
The firm’s products have been mired in security concerns in the past, with several reports of users complaining of privacy issues while using Amazon hardware.
In January 2020, four employees from the Ring department were fired after it was discovered that they were spying on customer videos.
Staff at the company’s R&D centre in Ukraine had been accessing customers’ video feeds. Although the workers had permission to access footage, they were found to have “exceeded what was necessary for their job functions”.
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It was reported that, over a period of four years, the company had received four complaints about staff inappropriately watching customers’ videos. In each instance, it said it had investigated the complaint and terminated the individual’s contract.
This is also not the first drone technology to be announced by Amazon in recent weeks. It was reported earlier this month (September) that the company had received federal approval to trial delivery drones.
Permission was granted by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for the firm to begin trials of its “Prime Air” drones with hopes of using them to make air deliveries in 30 minutes or less.
The FAA permitted the drones to carry packages “beyond the line of sight” of the operator and deliver them “safely and efficiently” after designating Amazon Prime Air an “air carrier”.