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Video: Fleetlights - a personal drone that lights your way

Technology developed by insurer Direct Line works via a smartphone app

Here’s an unexpected video from Direct Line that includes cyclists riding on a path that would be unlit, were they not bathed in the light of drones flying above them.

Filmed in and around Petworth, West Sussex the video also shows the drones, called Fleetlights, lighting the way home for a pub worker after her shift and for a member of a Lowland Rescue team.

They’re aimed at addressing an issue that will be all too apparent to cyclists and others at this time of year with the nights drawing in and cash-strapped councils switching off street lights.

Developed in partnership with ad agency Saatchi & Saatchi and technology expert Michael Oborne, of Mission Planner, the drones are controlled by prototype software called Fleet Control which works in harness with GPS and a smartphone app.

Mark Evans, Marketing Director at Direct Line Group said: “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 beta technology has been created to show how a responsive light service could help people to feel safer.”

Someone who is very enthused about the prospect of having his own personal drone to light the way is’s own John Stevenson, and not just because of its usefulness for walking the dogs at this time of year.

John says: “I’ve always wanted to feel like I’m in Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind while I’m out riding, so I want one of these!

“More seriously, it’s hard to imagine even the dimmest driver failing to see you if you’ve one of these following you on an unlit lane.

“I do wonder how they’d cope with the under bridges on the Bath-Bristol Path though."

Not to mention the chaos overhead if everyone cycling across Blackfriars Bridge, say, at rush hour had one.

This video explains the technology behind them.

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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