Automated drone technology is continuing to improve, despite protests of automated weaponry. In a new development, scientists from China’s Zhejiang University have created a swarm of drones same that can track humans in complex environments.
China’s swarm of drones can track through forests
Published in a paper in Science Robotics, Zhejiang University drones are capable of advanced human tracking. Additionally, with a multitude of AI and sensors, the swarm of drones can communicate with each other to autonomously evade obstacles in dense areas.
In the paper, the swarm is seen navigating through a dense bamboo forest. Using their collective algorithms, the group of drones can effectively navigate the dense environment without input from human controllers.
Via The Verge, these small drones are unique in how they navigate. For example, these drones do not need to have prior area mapping in order to move through a place, simple or complex. Instead, only on-board sensors and algorithms are used.
Additionally, there are two swarm types that the drones can utilise. The first is an “insect” mentality, a fast, reactive way of moving. Secondly, there’s “bird” mode which is slower and more careful but proposed for longer flights.
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Of course, the military will want them
Currently, the researchers at Zhejiang University have not proposed their drone research for military use. However, with how sought after cutting edge autonomous weaponry is, an alternative will likely arrive in military hands in the near future.
Instead, Zhejiang University researchers believe the technology will be perfectly fit for disaster situations. This could include scoping out a destroyed area, air-dropping supplies or helping out after an earthquake.
“In natural disasters like earthquakes and floods, a swarm of drones can search, guide, and deliver emergency supplies to trapped people,” the study says. “For example, in wildfires, agile multicopters can quickly collect information from a close view of the front line without the risk of human injury.”
Of course, the practical use of the swarm of drones in military action is undeniable, as well as haunting. As usual, the tech will likely be making its way into military hands sooner than anyone would like.