Dogs? Out! Drones? In!

13 January 2021 | Propeller Heads Newsletter



Image Courtesy: The Collegian
It’s fair to say that humans are the smartest creatures on the planet. So much so, we insult each other. A common phrase for saying someone isn’t so bright is to call them “Bird-Brains”. Which is to say their brain is only as big as that of a tiny little bird. Now that we’ve sufficiently explained the joke, moving on. 

We talked about this before, science imitating nature, using animals as inspiration for flight and other things (who remembers Moth drones from last time?). But that was always taking physical attributes of how they do what they do with their body parts. What if someone dug deeper and tried to make a drone think like birds do? Maybe “dig deeper” wasn’t the best choice of words for figuring out how animals’ brains work. But what if we took what we knew, and tried to make drones function as our eyes and brains do? 

Private Corporation Intel is trying just that. They have a division within their company called the “Neuromorphic Computing Lab”, which definitely isn’t the workshop of a villain from the Power Rangers. This lab is trying to take all of the camera and processing technology that either they or someone else has created over the years and make them function as the biological eye does. 

If they’re successful, this would be a breakthrough in how drones would fly through the world. Seeing and adapting on their own vs. having to slowly navigate using a screen and human inputs. Sounds like another step towards drone super highways in the sky!




Image Courtesy:
Well, it seems like it’s not just Intel that has noticed that there is a bit of a blindspot in the drone industry. (Vision joke even though it isn’t 2020 anymore.)

The same problem with drone eyesight was discovered by a group of researchers. And since tiny eye glasses won’t stay on a drone while flying through a forest, they had to turn to the inside of the drone. Instead of improving the camera or processing power, they instead turned to the code and the way the drones work together. If you watch the video of a simulated swarm moving through the trees, you’ll see it starts to look like a game of follow the leader. The drones are on a shared signal that helps them move through the cluster of trees. As one makes it through, it’s sharing that information with the other drones so they’re “thinking” as a group and not running into each other. Not crashing is important in the drone world for any new folks reading this. 

This technology could easily scale up to more than just 3 drones and be used in helping the search of a missing person, or surveying an area after a disaster. So we say, “Keep at it, researcher people”!




Image Courtesy: USA Today
With the recent banning of dog racing in a few states including in the wild west that is Florida, there is a void that’s been left in the hearts of people who like to earn money just to throw it away. Well, we’ve got some great news for those people! You can now bet on the results in the Drone Racing League in 5 states. 

DraftKings, a pretty popular sports betting company, is giving the people what they want! Instead of watching basically dog NASCAR, you can watch drones flying through obstacles at 90 mph and pulling enough G-forces to turn a human into soup. I mean who wouldn’t want that? We mean the racing, not the human soup. But in the words of Carl Weathers, if there’s still plenty of meat on the bone, you take that home, throw it in a pot, add some broth, a potato. Baby, you got a stew going. This first newsletter of 2021 has quickly gone off the rails. Apologies.

We really do think this will be so much more exciting than watching dogs chase their tails. We wouldn’t recommend petting the drones until the props have been stopped, though



Feb 15th – Integration of UAS into Law Enforcement Field Operations

Feb 15th – Two Day Basic Training

Feb 15th – Online Part 107 | One-day Class
Alright, folks — that’s it! Hope you have a great week!

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