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Surveillance drones could prevent attacks before they happen




New specially equipped surveillance drones in the United Kingdom have the potential to identify violent acts and attacks before they occur.

The Telegraph reports that in the aftermath of the horrific terrorist attack at Ariana Grande’s concert in Manchester last year, researchers at Cambridge University began to investigate the efficacy of drones in preventing public acts of violence. The stakes for preventing these sorts of events are high: the Manchester attacks instantly resulted in 23 deaths, 800 injuries and trauma for tens of thousands of people.

Cambridge’s study found that drones which costing as little as £150 ($200), could patrol stadiums and large public events – monitoring for individuals carrying weapons or leaving suspicious packages.

In the paper titled “Eye in the Sky”, researchers from England and India’s National Institutes of Technology speak up the possibility of transmitting footage from drone cameras in real-time and using video analysis algorithms to assess for threats.

How does it work?

In order to develop the software needed for this project, the researchers trained drone cameras to recognise various acts of violence simulated by a pair of actors. The actors would pretend to stab, shoot, punch, kick, strangle and otherwise hurt each other (no word if wrestling moves such as body slams were included too). When the drone idenitfies such a behaviour (see cover image for an idea of what the process will look like), it can notify a human observer who takes appropriate responsive action.

Lead researcher of the project, Amarjot Singh, told the Telegraph that the technology was currently nearly 95 percent accurate at identifying human poses but there were still some bugs to iron out. For example, sometimes the drones find it difficult to regonise actions when dealing with very large, tightly-packed crowds.

The drones will be subjected to more tests to work on the cinks in the software. The next big test for the drones and software will be patrolling large festivals in India.

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