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George Orwell is rolling in his grave: This drone has built-in facial recognition tech

Like it or not, selfies are here to stay, and the technology surrounding this form of self-photography is on the rise. The latest trend in the selfie movement is autonomous shooting, which was kicked off last year by the Lily drone. And the latest selfie drone to join the growing fleet of camera-equipped, self-tracking drones is the ROAM-e from Australian technology company IoT Group.

The ROAM-e drone is described as “a selfie stick on steroids” by IoT Group executive director Ian Duffell. Shaped like a water bottle to allow it to fit in big pockets and bags, the dual-blade cylindrical copper has a 5-megapixel CMOS camera and a quad-core ARM Cortex M4 processor that handles facial recognition and other flight computing tasks. It even has folding rotors that pack tightly for transport and storage. Because it carries a small camera and is designed to fly at low altitudes, the ROAM-e is on the compact side, measuring only 85mm at its widest point when folded.

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The selfie drone can be connected to a smartphone and programmed to follow a user via its onboard facial recognition technology. The drone can track the user unassisted at a distance of up to 25 feet and circle the subject, providing a 360-degree panorama view. Like any well-behaved drone, the ROAM-e will hover in place if it loses sight of its target and will wait there until it sees its subject again. Besides autonomous selfies, users can obtain a more theatrical effect by dropping a point on the map and programming the ROAM-e to fly to that point and return. It also can stream live video to a connected smartphone or tablet during its 20-minute flight.

The ROAM-e is priced at a very reasonable $349 and is available now to order from IoT Group’s website. Orders placed now will deliver within 12 weeks.