Could a drone be your next personal assistant – or dance partner?
By Ben Coxworth
June 3, 2013
New York City-based robotics developer Falkor Systems is working on autonomous flying robots that could fly alongside extreme athletes, shooting video of their exploits in the process. Beyond that, however, the company envisions a day in which such machines may hover around everyday people, acting as their assistants and perhaps even becoming their “friends.” In a demonstration of how such a relationship could be possible, Falkor recently used an augmented AR Drone quadcopter to take part in a modern dance performance with a human partner.
Known as the “Pet Drone Pas de Deux,” the dance piece was produced in collaboration with the Barkin/Selissen Project, a community that is looking at new ways of exploring the arts.
The AR Drone was able to detect and track the female dancer using OpenCV image detection technology. Simon Fraser University’s ardrone_autonomy software was used to control the actual Drone. Software created by Falkor utilized the Robot Operating System to act as a bridge between OpenCV and ardrone_autonomy, allowing the two systems to interface with one another – OpenCV would track the dancer, then go through the Robot Operating System to get ardrone_autonomy to move the aircraft accordingly.
Falkor is certainly not the only group exploring such uses of drones. A team from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology has turned an AR Drone into a human-jogger-tracking running companion, while tech firm Always Innovating is in the process of creating a US$49 tiny autonomous quadcopter that shoots video of its human user.
“Pet Drone Pas de Deux” can be seen below. In case you just don’t get it, it is apparently intended to pose the question, “When we love our robots, will it matter if they are human or not?”.