In extremely cool and normal news that definitely won’t be used for some dystopian bullshit, scientists are training drones to hunt people using the sound of their screams.
Yes. The sound of their screams.
This is some real Monster’s Inc energy, if you ask me.
According to Mashable, the drone is being developed by researchers from Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute for Communication, Information Processing and Ergonomics (Fraunhofer FKIE), who hope the technology will be helpful in emergency situations.
Basically, if you’re stuck in the wilderness, the drone will be able to hear you scream and come to your rescue. Pretty neat, huh?
Using beamforming technology – which allows microphones to detect and follow sounds – the technology aims to help in rescue operations.
In an interview with Mashable, researcher Macarena Varela explained that the team had already developed a similar device back in 2016 but it was too heavy to be effectively mounted on a drone, which is kind of a non-negotiable.
“In 2018, Dr Wirth was convinced that we could use MEMS [microelectromechanical system] microphones instead of the traditional condenser microphones, making the system much smaller,” said Varela. “This was the beginning of our dream to be able to mount it on a drone for the purpose of SAR (Search and Rescue).”
The system is equipped with 32 microphones, but the researchers have clarified that they’re unsure how few they could use for the device to still work effectively. This means future iterations of the device could need less than 32, but as it currently stands, the plan is to increase that number.
“Since MEMS microphones are so small and affordable, we are planning to double the amount of microphones in the near future instead of reducing them,” said Varela.
Basically, by using more microphones, the drone will be able to more precisely pinpoint the exact location of the victim.
“Ideally, to use beamforming techniques, it is practical to use an array of identical microphones delivering synchronous data,” said Varela. “We opted for a very particular array called Crow’s Nest, where all microphones are randomly positioned in a sphere. This type of array provides sound coverage in every direction and [is] equally good in all directions.”
This all sounds fine and dandy when we’re using it to rescue people who are stranded in the wilderness, but let’s just hope no evil supervillains hijack this technology to hunt us down Hunger Games-style.