Skydio Unveils Self-Piloted Drone, a “Film Crew in Your Backpack”
David Royse | LedeTree
Selfies have gone airborne.
But a cool new creation’s public debut also brings into our lives the ability of the robots to watch us, even if we run away from them.
Like many stories we try to bring you at LedeTree about how things are changing in our world and how they impact our lives, this one is exciting and cool, but also complicated and thought-provoking.
So what is it?
A company called Skydio told the world on Tuesday that it has created a camera-carrying drone for taking video that’s got a new feature other drones don’t have.
It can follow you without someone piloting it. It knows where you go. It takes your picture.
The one thing many humans are nervous about when it comes to autonomous tech is the introduction of artificial “intelligence.” It’s fine when we program things to do their thing. But when the things start doing their thing on their own, well … that’s 78 percent of every science fiction horror movie you’ve seen.
But in fairness to Skydio, let’s go in with an open mind and take a look at the thing first – because it’s brilliant.
I want to hang out with the dudes at Skydio. Because they appear to spend their time doing a lot of really cool stuff. And we know this, because they invented a flying video robot to capture how awesome their lives are. I definitely want to hang with a guy who does pull ups on a streetlight.
NOW THE RAMIFICATIONS
For me, the awesome applications – beyond even “more rad” social media posts – are readily apparent. Hard to imagine live TV sports photography getting even better, but here you go. And you imagine how much more at ease parents could be if there’s a video drone following their kids around when they’re in places just a bit dangerous? TRUE HELICOPTER PARENTING!
It doesn’t take Robert Ludlum to see the sinister possibilities here, though.
Cameras flying around the streets filming people going about their lives is something that may draw a bit of skepticism. As a military or police tool, the notion of taking human control away from the robots may be good, may be bad – I’m not sure, but I know it’s worth thinking about.
Privacy advocates have been nervous about drones since they first were able to fly, and for a couple of years have made compelling warnings about the possibilities for more and more pervasive surveillance. This certainly will add to their concerns.
It’s not just government who we might need to watch carefully if this technology … um, takes off.
The fact that the state of Indiana feels the need to have on the books a “sex offender unmanned aerial vehicle offense,” which is when a sex offender uses a drone to follow, contact, or capture images or recordings of someone, might make you a little concerned.
But most negative use of technology up to this point has been negative because of the depravity of humans (see the tech savvy Hoosier pervs above). But what if the robots are following us on their own? Maybe it’s like with cars and airplanes, and the robots are better at deciding what to do with video than we are. I just don’t know.
Skydio’s founders, as evidenced by the selfie nature of their unveil videos, see this as a way to advance the social media life under the microscope we’re all living now. If you summit Mount Kilimanjaro, but you don’t post some video, well, it didn’t happen, brah.
The MIT guys behind Skydio say this is their goal: “Basically to create a film crew that lives in your backpack,” says CEO Adam Bry.