Autonomous Drones

The news article that I chose to respond to this week is about the first commercially available drone that autonomously follows a target. This is a very cool yet scary prospect. First off, though, I would like to talk about the product itself before getting into the prospects. So the way these drones work is through a smart phone. You turn on the camera, set it on who or what you want it to follow and then the drone takes over, persistently chasing its target. The video that is shown really demonstrates what the drone is capable of. It is able to fly around trees and keep a relatively consistent distance from the target it is chasing. This is astounding technology and very impressive AI tech. However, there are a couple limitations. Currently the battery life is a measly 16 minutes and the tracking technology does not work well in bad weather or at night. Limitations aside this technology has both positive and negative implications. As someone who likes to casually record things, this technology really excites me. The ability to set the drone to record for me, instead of having to chase my self or pilot a drone with human error sounds really useful. One could get very clean chase scene shots this way. However the scary implications come from the fact that it could be used for surveillance. The impressive tracking ability could mean a very strong invasion of privacy, more than that of a regular drone. Granted, right now that wouldn’t be a problem because of the limitations, but if the tech advances then that problem is no doubt going to arise. One this I really liked about the coverage of this, is that the article presented both sides instead of only showing a positive or a negative side.