The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun/YouTube
  • The Asahi Power Service Company has invented a drone- and
  •  AI-powered umbrella designed to hover over people and follow them
  •  as they walk.
  • It's called the "Free Parasol."
  • The company hopes to sell it for $273 (£203) each when they launch
  •  next year.
  • But because Japan has banned drones in densely populated areas,
  •  the areas they can be deployed are limited.

A Japanese company has invented an ingenious way to shelter people 
from the rain without having to tie up your hands. 
The "Free Parasol," developed by the Asahi Power Service Company, is
 a drone- and AI-powered umbrella that hovers over a person and is
 meant to follow them while they walk. 
The company plans to sell the umbrella for 30,000 yen ($273/£203) next
 year, reported SoraNews24, an Asian news blog that operates out of
Each umbrella will be equipped with artificial intelligence software that
 can detect the top of the user's head and follow them as they walk. 
Here's what it looks like now: 
Although its movement is meant to be automatic, the video appears to
 show somebody steering it manually. 
The umbrella's current prototype is 59 inches in diameter, weighs about
 5 kg (11 lbs), and has enough battery power to fly for about 20 minutes,
 SoraNews24 said. 
It isn't yet clear how the drone would cope with wind, which is often just as
 much of a problem as rain when it comes to bad weather. 
Asahi Power Service plans to reduce the final version
 down to 1 kg (2.2 lbs) and lengthen its flight time
 to one hour. It will also cover its propellers with
 cages so it won't accidentally injure a passerby. 
Not everyone will be able to use the Free Parasol when it comes out,
 though. It is illegalto fly drones around densely populated areas in 
Japan, so the company expects to sell it for use on private properties
 like golf courses.