(ZH) — A swarm of micro-drones autonomously navigated a dense bamboo forest in China without GPS, able to avoid trees, branches, and brush. The incredible footage suggests these drones could one day be used for search and rescue efforts or even put to sinister use: hunting humans.
Chinese scientists from Zhejiang University published a report and footage of ten lightweight drones maneuvering at speed through a forest. The technology behind the drones autonomously navigates the best flight path through high-tech sensors.
Lead author Xin Zhou wrote in a paper published Wednesday, in the journal Science Robotics, that “multi-robot aerial systems are a symbol of future technology” and cited science fiction films, Prometheus (2012), Ender’s Game (2013), Star Wars: Episode III (2005), and Blade Runner 2049 (2017), where drones or drone swarms were used, which ultimately “inspired” the research team.
Here is the drone swarm navigating through the woods. Full video below.
In another experiment, Zhou and his team showed the drone swarm could track a human “target” through a field of trees.
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Commenting on the breakthrough research is Enrica Soria, of the laboratory of intelligent systems at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne, Switzerland, who told The Telegraph:
“This work presents a notable contribution to the robotics community and an important step towards the application of drone swarms beyond the constrained environment of a laboratory, not only for exploration in forests but also for a range of safety-critical missions in human-made environments, such as urban areas with humans and buildings.”
What’s terrifying is if researchers transfer the technology to Beijing, or even the military, who could use the advanced drone software to hunt humans for domestic surveillance purposes, or equip it with weapons for the modern battlefield.
About five years ago, the world’s leading AI researchers and humanitarian organizations warned about lethal autonomous weapons systems, or killer robots, that select and kill targets without human control. Future of Life Institute released this dystopic video of “slaughterbots.”