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MIT Team Develops Automated Drone for Precise Camerawork

Directors can specify a shot's framing to a camera-equipped autonomous drone that will then preserve the framing as subjects move.

Drones could soon be flying solo on film sets, as a team of researchers from MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory and ETH Zurich have developed a system for autonomous control.

This new system, which is slated to be presented at the International Conference on Robotics and Automation, could allow a camera-equipped drone to track a subject—including maintaining their size, position in the frame and orientation to the camera—without the assistance of a drone operator.

“With our solution, if the subject turns 180 degrees, our drones are able to circle around and keep focus on the face,” Daniela Rus, senior author on the paper, explained to

MIT News

. “We are able to specify richer higher-level constraints for the drones. The drones then map the high-level specifications into control and we end up with greater levels of interaction between the drones and the subjects.” 

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