This week, Martha Stewart penned an ode to her drone in Time, expressing amazement at the autonomous machines and asking us to “imagine what Louis XIV could have accomplished at Versailles if he’d had one.”
The whole thing is very Martha Stewart-y. But it’s not in the least surprising. Martha, a very wealthy woman who occasionally drinks high tea at The Plaza Hotel with her award-winning chow chow, is part of a growing class of rich people who adore their drones.
Drones cost a lot of money, make headlines, and can function as mini-servants sans salaries. They’re fun to play with, too, as you can see from my survey of extravagant drone use below. Take a look at how the rich have been using these aerial machines to enhance their already-lavish lives:
1. Surveying their estates.
Martha Stewart’s estate, as photographed by her drone. (The Martha Blog)
As Stewart wrote in her magazine, she operates her Parrot A.R. Drone 2.0 from her iPad, so she “can send it out over the farm — I love getting overhead shots of the gardens and livestock.”
In case you’d like to be reminded of what little real estate you own in comparison, feel free to peruse her gorgeous property over at her blog.
2. Getting bottle service in da club.
The Marquee Dayclub, an exclusive, boozy bar and pool on the Las Vegas Strip, offered a one-time drone bottle service special during Memorial Day weekend. The drone, which carried a bucket with a liquor bottle, was flown close to a gaggle of bikini-clad partiers. Its recipient quickly plucked it from the robot and resumed the festivities. “It was very well received,” the club’s press person told Yahoo Tech. “So it likely will be done again in the future.”
3. Filming their opulent weddings.
In June, New York Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney held a very luxe wedding in Hudson Valley, for which he hired a company called Propellerheads Aerial Photography to shoot some footage. After releasing a video of the ceremony, the Federal Aviation Administration launched an investigation into the incident, saying the use of the aircraft was not authorized. Meanwhile, Vogue launched an investigation into whether drones were the next big wedding trend.
4. Getting champagne delivered at the resort.
Whether you’re warming up at a new wine bar in the Swiss Alps, or splayed out poolside at the Casa Madrona Hotel & Spa in Sausalito, California, a bottle of bubbly is only a quick drone delivery away. As Eater has so diligently reported, the drone-delivered champagne is not included in the Madrona’s $10K-a-night price tag. Rather, it’s a special service intended to demonstrate the establishment’s dedication to “luxury and technology.”
5. Covering them in crystals and displaying them in a petting zoo.
A rendering of the zoo. (Quartz)
OK, so this never ended up happening. But for the record, the high-end crystal company Swarovski intended to bling out a bunch of drones. The plan was to let them loose during London’s Design Festival in September at the Albert and Victoria Museum garden, creating a drone “petting zoo” of sorts.
Unfortunately, the plan was axed after the brand considered the “safety of members of the public in close proximity to the drones.” Those darn safety procedures, always getting in the way of our crystal-embellished fun.
6. Broadcasting fashion shows.
Earlier this year, famed Italian label Fendi broadcast its 2014 fall/winter show via drone, live-streaming it to the common folk who were unable to procure a seat next to Anna Wintour. Prior to the event, the posh fashion house applauded the drone as “an innovative project” that “surpasses the traditional notion of fashion shows.” Apparently a solid set of lace-up calfskin booties just doesn’t cut it anymore.
7. Making golf practice “less boring.”
Even three-time PGA Tour winners get tired of playing golf every once in a while. Which is why, as Yahoo Sports reports, Keegan Bradley occasionally brings a drone along for a day on the greens. And if he’s feeling particularly shifty, he’ll even aim at it. What’s $1K worth of machinery when Putnam Investments is paying you to destroy it?
8. Spying on their cheating spouses.
Olwyn Triggs, the president of the Professional Investigator’s Network, recently lauded drones as a fantastic way to catch people doing nefarious things, like committing insurance fraud or cheating on their spouses. As the New York Post reported earlier this month, an investigator pretended to take his drone for a test flight in Central Park while he was documenting a married man’s affair with a female co-worker nearby. One can imagine the bizarre mix of delight and heartbreak that his wife later felt while watching the beautiful aerial footage.
9. Previewing the super-expensive properties they plan to purchase.
A surprising fount of drone information, the Post also reports that high-end New York City real-estate agents are enthusiastically adopting the flying machines as tools to show their properties. Specifically, they use drones to demonstrate the stunning views of future tower penthouses before they’re even constructed. The practice has become so widely known that even The New York Times did a trend piece (above) on it. I’d wish for the same in Craigslist postings, but I think that’d just make me clinically depressed.
10. Adopting them as expensive, tidier pets.
Who wants to adopt a dirty shelter kitten when you can have a robot on a leash? Zurich startup Fotokite has designed a low-tech, low-cost quadrocopter that’s fitted with some basic photography equipment. “It is like a flying pet,” the robot’s creator, Sergei Lupashin, said at a TED conference. “It always has a physical connection to the operator.” I quote the Daily Mail’s headline for this story when I say, “Forget cats and dogs.”
POLL: How would you use a drone if you were super-wealthy?