If you've ever been to a photography set, you've probably noticed how much time the photographer and their assistants take to perfectly position the lighting — only to have their efforts foiled when the model moves. That's why researchers at MIT are proposing using drones as lighting, as they can constantly ensure they're always in the perfect spot.
The research not only involves creating drones that can be easily positioned and then will autonomously maintain that position in relation to the movement of the camera and photographer. It's also working to develop sensor-equipped drones and algorithms that are smart enough to look at how the lighting falls on a subject, and then constantly adjust its position to achieve a desired effect no matter how often they move.
And battery life aside, the lighting drones would make on-location setups far easier than they are now by eliminating the need for weighted stands and having to run cabling to a power source. A photographer could easily map out where they want each light positioned, and hit go. The drones would then automatically manoeuvre themselves into position, and automatically make adjustments as the ambient lighting conditions changed.
They certainly wouldn't completely eliminate the need for assistants, though. After all, getting a drone to get your coffee order exactly right is a whole other branch of research. [MIT via TechCrunch]