Researchers from British Columbia’s Simon Fraser University recently unveiled a new fleet of drones capable of obeying vocal and visual commands.
The project, which was presented during the annual IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS) earlier this month in Japan, revealed the ability of multiple drones to obey specific and group commands through the use of face detection cameras and voice command recognition.
Using a facial scoring system, each drone’s camera determines which direction a user is focused towards. Once the drone with the highest “face score” has been targeted, small color-changing LEDs provide confirmation to the user. Simple commands such as “take off” allows for complete handsfree control, while commands such as “you two” or “you three” allows multiple drones to obey the same order simultaneously.
Through the use of Vision-Mediated Gestural Interface, the drones also have the ability to be controlled silently by simple hand motions. Once a drone recognizes it has been visually targeted, a user can gain control through a right-hand wave, while a left hand wave removes it. In a separate demonstration, a user gains control of multiple drones and uses a dual-hand wave to command the drone fleet to carry out a predetermined mission. In the future work
While the team is still perfecting the drone camera’s user detection success rate, plans to implement advanced command capabilities are already in the works.
“In future work we will demonstrate the practicality of our methods on working outdoor robot systems including heterogeneous teams of robots,” the team’s research paper states. “We will extend this work to designate teams of robot by name, so we can say ‘You three are Red Team’, ‘You three join Blue Team’, and ‘You switch to Green Team’.”
While the technology is inherently harmless, the increased use of surveillance drones inside the United States has few citizens cheering their continued roll out. Although retracting his comments after public outcry, Attorney General Eric Holder’s initial belief of being constitutionally authorized in carrying out drone assassinations against Americans on US soil has only attributed to the public’s distrust of domestic drone use.
Other recent advances have produced drones with the ability to grab stationary objects at a high-rate of speed with a mechanical claw, much like a taloned bird grabbing prey. Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania are currently advancing the drone’s capabilities in hopes to be able to literally snatch humans off the street.
World famous thinkers have taken notice of the lightning growth in robotic technology, prompting the likes of physicist Stephen Hawking to warn of its dangerous and uncontrolled march, as the walls of technocracy grow exponentially higher.
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