back to article Lights, camera, AI-ction! Robo-drones turned into spies, er, filmmakers

Cameras on drones have helped make aerial photography more accessible – and with machine-learning software, they may be able to assist budding filmmakers in the future, too. A team of researchers from Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) in the US, and Yamaha Motors in Japan, have published a paper showing how drones can be used …

  1. 89724102172714182892114I7551670349743096734346773478647892349863592355648544996312855148587659264921 Bronze badge

    This is the true manifestation of Robocop in the real world, all it needs is face recognition and frikkin tasers.

  2. Andy 73


    The M210 is *not* a 'consumer drone' - It's part of DJI's enterprise range and starts at just North of £7K.

    Whilst this is a big improvement on the existing optical tracking algorithms, it's not exactly new. DJI have included Active Track in their actual consumer drones for around two years now. Unlike this algorithm, their version runs on a cheap processor running in the drone itself. Admittedly, it's easily fooled, but this shows that improvements are possible (and ultimately probably don't need ten grand's worth of equipment to run).

    1. Francis Boyle

      Yes, really just an incremental improvement

      And no, not particularly useful in surveillance, since it's essentially about optimisations designed to produce aesthetically pleasing shots, not about subject recognition.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Yes, really just an incremental improvement

        >about optimisations designed to produce aesthetically pleasing shots

        Unfortunately they trained it on Michael Bay movies so it focuses on zooming toward a different car every 30 nanoseconds and then crashed through a window.

        The one they trained on independent movies entirely ignored the scene it was supposed to film and watched a bit of litter blowing along the street until its batteries ran out.

  3. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "The drone travels slowly at 7.5 metres per second"

    Um, 7 meters per second is running speed. That's not slow, unless you're expecting your drone to chase cyclists in which case, yeah, it's probably not good enough. But on foot ? You'll need to go into a store to lose it. Out in the open, once it has you in its sights you are not running away from it.

    Not as long as the battery is good, that is.

    What I'm wondering is how much noise the thing makes in flight. People are talking about surveillance, but if the drone is screeching like a banshee to stay aloft, its "surveillance" is going to be quite obvious. They'd need to have near-silent drones that can track people from a dozen or so meters up, to be as inconspicuous as possible. Still, I'm guessing the drone isn't very small, so it will be quite visible in the day time.

    1. vir

      Re: "The drone travels slowly at 7.5 metres per second"

      There's someone in my neighborhood who pops up a drone from time to time. A DJI Phantom in all likelihood but it's too high for me to really get a good ID and I don't care enough to find out for sure. It is fairly loud - about the same sound and intensity as a gas-powered weed whacker - and really stands out because you're not expecting to hear that kind of sound coming from above you.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    surveillance platforms to also carry out payload delivery

    YES, YES, YES, micromissiles AT LAST!!!!


    yeah, well, law enforcement only, naturally...


    yeah, ok, some criminals MIGHT be able to gain access, but hey, THE PUBLIC CAN BE REASSURED (...)


    you can get the bits off aliexpress and manual how to put pieces together too?! But that's only for anti-micro-missiles, right? Surely not for anti-anti-micro-missiles?!

    1. Version 1.0 Silver badge

      Re: surveillance platforms to also carry out payload delivery

      Used to be, certain nation states would just pack explosives into users cell phones to get rid of annoying people, now they can just deliver them by drone ... watch the Middle East for this development.

  5. Sandy Scott

    Awesome, except it's already been done

    This would be amazing research, except that there's already a (pricey) consumer product out there which can do this: Skydio R1

    Flite Test reviewed it (, and the results are super-impressive - following a person running through woodland, and didn't crash once.

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