Americas DJI Multirotor

Fallen drone found on streets of San Francisco


By Amber Schadewald

I found your stupid drone. Yeah. It’s creeping me out.

It was Saturday night and with a belly full of Thai takeout, my boyfriend stepped outside to smoke. From atop the stoop he noticed a weird blinking bot in the middle of Fulton Street. Was it an alien hovercraft? A child’s toy? It turned out to be a little of column A and a little of column B – a fancy schmancy drone; a $1200 quadcopter.

He brought it inside and all of us (housemates and visiting friends) circled around the found object in the kitchen. “Turn it off!” we demanded. “It’s going to kill us!” we joked with an ounce of concern. “It’s looking at me,” I cowered in the corner.

It felt like the first scene of some sci-fi flick that ends with a room of corpses and an audience moaning, “Oh my god. So predictable. Those idiots shouldn’t have brought it inside.”

We waited to see if anyone would ring the doorbell. I envisioned government agents pounding at the door or a gaggle of awkward tech dudes running in the street with panic. The suspense was thick – so was the paranoia.

Why were these jerks flying this thing around in my neighborhood so late at night? What were they watching? What did they see?

Drone sightings will only become more common. In a matter of months, they’ll be meandering the skies above the Mission and dropping off drugstore packages, which means other companies are bound to follow suit with their own robots for other means.

When no one showed up that night to claim their machine, we decided to pull the battery and turn off the wi-fi, mostly as a precautionary measure against any sort of phone-home protocol. No one wanted to find that thing banging around the room and clawing at the door in the middle of the night.

We have since put up a Craigslist post, but so far no bites and the mystery continues. We might give it back. We might not. We might just throw it outside in a puddle. (OK, we won’t do that because that’s littering).

So for now, I guess I’m holding a drone captive. It’s currently perched on my mantel, simultaneously scaring and irritating me. I even had a nightmare that it was hovering over my head while I slept and when I woke up, I laughed so hard at the ridiculousness of the situation. Only in SF, right?

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