Does Twitter want to build a tweet-controlled drone?

Twitter wants to get into drones. At least, that’s what a recently revealed patent from the company appears to suggest.

Granted in recent days by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), the official document describes a “messaging-enabled unmanned aerial vehicle.”

twitter drone

Is a Twitter drone in the works?

It’s not completely clear what the social media company has in mind, though somewhat intriguingly the patent speaks of a Twitter user controlling a flying machine “with commands embedded in messages.”

Controlling a drone with tweets? The folks at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will surely have palpitations at the prospect of such functionality.

Reading on, there’s more for the FAA to worry about, as Twitter suggests the drone could be controlled “through democratic means,” a feature that on the face of it sounds like the flying machine would take ages to go anywhere or do anything. And when the controllers do finally agree on a set of actions, who knows what the consequences could be.

The patent continues: “Controllable elements of the UAV include UAV location, camera orientation, camera subject, UAV-mounted lighting, a UAV-mounted display, a UAV-mounted projector, UAV-mounted speakers, and a detachable payload.”

Related: Get airborne on a budget with the best drones under $500

When NBC asked Twitter what on earth the patent was all about, they came back with: “Two words: drone selfies.” Interesting considering the word “selfie” isn’t mentioned once in the patent. However, it does mention photos and video clips captured by a drone being placed in messages “broadcast by an account associated with the UAV,” adding that video footage from the camera could be “live-streamed in a card-type message.” That kinda ties in with Periscope, the live-streaming service acquired by Twitter in early 2015.

Also, the patent was filed more than a year ago, a few days before the Twitter crew posted these drone selfies from Cannes. Is that significant? We’ve embedded one of them below:





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