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Circuit Breaker

This Pokémon Go drone product concept is unlikely to get off the ground

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TRNDlabs, (which, it should be noted is an actual drone company), released a video today announcing their attempt to cash-in on the Pokémon Go craze with the Pokédrone. Now, while using a drone to cheat at Pokémon Go is (sadly) nothing new, the Pokédrone earns some serious style points for it’s promise of a simple, all-in-one package.

You, too, the Pokédrone promises, can be like the generic model in this almost certainly fake video, relaxing by a lake and catching all the Squirtles you could ever want with your drone. (The video depicts a larger, modified variant of the TRNDlabs Nanodrone, a neat miniature drone with a camera that also has the virtue of existing).

Some other possible issues with the Pokédrone include:

  • Selling a product with the word "poké" in the name, which I’m pretty sure Nintendo would have some legal issues with. (TRNDlabs views this as a "less urgent" concern at this point in time).
  • The drone claims to work by spoofing the GPS input from the iPhone to the Pokémon Go app with the drone's GPS signal, which is not possible to do without jailbreaking your iPhone or using Apple's dev tools.
  • Spoofing GPS is against the spirit of the game and my editor, Paul Miller, only approves of it in the case of stunts and Twitch Plays Pokémon Go. (It's also probably against the terms of service of the game and would probably get you banned.)
  • The video depicts using the camera input of the drone with Pokémon Go's AR mode, which is also not possible to do without jailbreaking your iPhone or using Apple's dev tools.

All that being said, it would be super cool if this was a thing and I will absolutely buy one if this turns out to be real. It also should be noted that most of those issues could be solved with some open APIs from Niantic, which are about as likely to ever exist as the Pokédrone is. TRNDlabs offers a sign up form on their website for more information if you, like me, would like to keep the dream of the Pokédrone alive.

TRNDlabs has commented that they hope to be to work with Nintendo directly in order to incorporate the GPS and camera inputs from the drone directly to the Pokémon Go app, or else release the Pokédrone independently and rely on support though jailbreaking. Additionally, TRNDlabs is not concerned with players being banned for faking their location, arguing that the Pokédrone is merely "bringing the GPS signal out of the phone, so you can travel to places that are close by, but not reachable by walking".

Update, July 13 5:05pm: Included comments from TRNDlabs.