Rotating blades at groin height
Why, all of a sudden, I somehow do not feel thrilled by this idea...
Researchers have taught a drone to fly autonomously through the streets of Zürich, Switzerland, by using a simple neural network. As tech companies toy with the idea of using mini-drones for delivery, monitoring buildings, or surveillance, then figuring out how to fly them without human control is vital if sales are to scale …
" it can also only move on a single plane at groin height"
what I thought a well, BUT it's an interesting proof of concept. Make then fly at around 2.5 meters (high enough to avoid most urban obstacles) and it would work very well... at least from a technical point of view. As to whether we need/want these things flying around everywhere, that's another discussion to be had (before arriving at a firm NO conclusion)
"2.5 meters (high enough to avoid most urban obstacles)"
Brooms, baseball/cricket/golf bats, hats gloves & scarves, frisbees, junk food wrappers, small change ... at that altitude, drone parts will be easy pickings.
Of course, they'll be easy pickings at any altitude in an urban setting.
In the UK, his testing would have run foul of even the light touch rules govening drones. We aren't likely to see anything like this in the UK at any point in the near future.
(1) The person in charge of a small unmanned surveillance aircraft must not fly the aircraft in any of the circumstances described in paragraph (2) except in accordance with a permission issued by the CAA.
(2) The circumstances referred to in paragraph (1) are:
(a) over or within 150 metres of any congested area;
(b) over or within 150 metres of an organised open-air assembly of more than
(c) within 50 metres of any vessel, vehicle or structure which is not under the
control of the person in charge of the aircraft;
(d) subject to paragraphs (3) and (4), within 50 metres of any person.
I really look forward to the idea of a future where, as I walk down the street doing my shopping, all I can hear is the angry buzzing of the constant cloud of drones overhead, with the occasional scream as one descends to make a delivery and catches an unwary pedestrian.
I can see a time where Trafalgar Square will be the territory of feral drones, and the pigeons will all be in hiding.
"It works by examining images from a camera, and produces two outputs: a steering angle so it can hover and skirt around obstacles, and a collision probability so it knows whether or not it's likely to bump into stuff, and take appropriate action."
Ahh, back to the basics!
"People are also eminently capable of failing to notice a toddler, or as they are also known, mobile tripping hazards."
Living things tend to be exceedingly good at diverting/cushioning the blow in the last milliseconds preceding an impact they failed to avoid whenever there is something around they might want to protect; they can also be warned to exercise heightened caution wherever said mobile tripping hazards may dwell. Neither of those things is really feasible with a four-disk Flying Buzzsaw of Dismemberment. And no, you really don't want to get in contact even with a four-inch featherweight toy.
Our intuition was that cars, bicycles, or similar vehicles, already have this great ability. Therefore, we developed an algorithm to make drones that can imitate them.
Your intuition was rubbish. Cars, bicycles, and similar vehicles have no ability. Their drivers or riders may, in some cases, have great ability.
It does say in the regulations you quote that you can ask the CAA for permission. I don't suppose the CAA would be much harder to convince that the local ethics committee. (I presume they had someone with their hands hovering over a kill switch so it would just drop on the ground. That's not too brilliant as a general strategy for drones, but at their height, it would have worked fine.)
(Icon because ....)
EerieEasy solution: forget about pictures to teach the AI and instead use a self-teaching system such as AlphaZero. Might need a more complex neural network though. But I'd expect totally innovative ways to navigate the city. And maybe the AI gets the hang of hoovering at groin level - just for fun.
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