Drones Light Your Way Home With Direct Line's Prototype App

Insurance Brand Is Experimenting With Ways to Improve Everyday Objects

Published On
Nov 28, 2016

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U.K. insurance brand Direct Line has developed an app that helps prevent accidents by providing extra streetlighting for rural areas via drones.

The protoype technology is called "Fleetlights" and consists of a fleet of flying torch drones, which are responsive to an individual's movements and are controlled via an app. They can be summoned to light up roads for pedestrians, bikers and even cars.

The Fleetlights technology and app were developed by Saatchi & Saatchi London for Direct Line in collaboration with Mission Planner technology expert Michael Oborne. The system was beta tested in the rural village of Petworth, where, as seen in the explanation video here, a woman calls on them using her smartphone to help light her way home from work while a search and rescue team uses them to provide extra lighting on an unfamiliar road.

While the Fleetlights system is only a prototype, Direct Line has made the software and hardware designs available online, for free to any development community. According to Ricardo Figueira, digital executive creative director at Saatchi & Saatchi, it has already been contacted by "numerous technologists, suppliers and partners" about the system.

The project is part of a campaign that will see Direct Line undertaking a series of experiments to improve everyday objects that impact the lives of people in the U.K. Its aim is to position Direct Line as a forward-thinking insurance company that aims to move from just fixing problems as quickly as possible to preventing them before they even happen.

Mark Evans, marketing director at Direct Line Group said in a statement: "Increasingly, technology will shift the centre of gravity for insurance from restitution towards prevention. We want to lead the trend into this space and so we are always looking at innovative ways to proactively improve everyday life through emerging technologies. We felt that street lights could be much better, especially as the nights draw in. This prototype service has been created to show how a responsive light service could help people to feel safer."