One notable hybrid interface device, with both physical and digital aspects, is the Drone Programmer. It is used to encode key tasks or functions into the drone. Note that it is seen only briefly—so we’re going off very little information. It facilitates a crucial low-level reprogramming of Drone 172.
This device is a handheld item, grasped on the left, approximately 3 times as wide as it is tall. Several physical buttons are present, but are unused in the film: aside from grasping, all interaction is done through use of a small touchscreen with enough sensitivity to capture fingertip taps on very small elements.
Jack uses the Programmer while the drone is disabled. When he pulls the cord out of the drone, the drone restarts and immediately begins to try and move/understand its surroundings.
When Drone 172 is released from the Programmer cable, it is in a docile and inert state…
Each drone is a semi-autonomous flying robot armed with large cannons, heavy armor, and a wide array of sensor systems. When in flight mode, the weapon arms retract. The arms extend when the drone senses a threat.
Each drone is identical in make and temperament, distinguishable only by large white numbers on its “face”. The armored shell is about a meter in diameter (just smaller than Jack). Internal power is supplied by a small battery-like device that contains enough energy to start a nuclear explosion inside of a sky-scraper-sized hydrogen distiller. It is not obvious whether the weapons are energy or projectile-based.
The Drone Interface is a HUD that shows the drone’s vision and secondary information about its decision making process. The HUD appears on all video from the Drone’s primary camera. Labels appear in legible human English.
Video feeds from the drone can be in one of several modes that vary according to what kind of searching the drone is doing. We never see the drone use more than one mode at once. These modes include visual spectrum, thermal imaging, and a special ‘tracking’ mode used to follow Jack’s bio signature.
Occasionally, we also see the Drone’s primary objective on the HUD. These include an overlay on the main view that says “TERMINATE” or “CLEAR”.