A group of students in SRM University led by Sobin Santhosh, final year student in the Aerospace department have designed and implemented an autonomous copter equipped with an automatic face and person recognition system in a day. They have trained their intelligent software to detect a person irrespective of his/her attire, face orientation, posture and/or background. In their drill experiment of the rescue application, an onboard camera was mounted on a quad-copter UAV where a live video was recorded. The video was fed to the person identification software, developed on a MATLAB platform by Arijit Ray, a final year student of SRM University in the Electrical and Electronics Department. The software successfully detected the target person in an image taken while the copter has hovering. Several images of the target individual were taken in different postures, angles and backdrops to ensure that the software has a robust accuracy. The GPS location of the snapshot image was also transmitted to the ground station and it conformed exactly to the location at which the snapshot was taken.
Such an in-genuine application involving autonomous copters enunciate the myriad scopes for further research and development in the fields of smart security and surveillance. Rescue operations that go on for days and even months can be completed in a matter of few hours as copters can reach horizontal traversing speeds up to 5 m/s. Moreover, autonomous copters can now be used as smart police surveillance aerial bots. Latest research in image processing have made possible the detection of activities in images. Such techniques can be further developed to be made more robust under unrelenting conditions and then can be employed on copters for smart detection of crime at weary hours of night when human surveillance is not pragmatically possible. According to Arijit Ray, “Computer vision equipped copters have unprecedented applications to change the world, ranging from rescue operations in the most inaccessible of places to smart surveillance and security in the most complex and dynamic of environments.” According to the Dr. Narayana Rao, the Director of Research at SRM University, “Autonomous Copters have potential applications such as surveillance, aerial photography and also have various strategic applications”.
The vice chancellor of IGNOU recently returned from what he described as a ghastly experience. He and his wife had been lost during the recent J&K Floods for six days. He is reported having said that if the rescue team had been late by another five minutes, he might have not lived to tell the tale. However, the former Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, Y S Rajasekhara Reddy wasn’t that lucky; he could not be reached in time when his helicopter crashed in the remote forests of Andhra Pradesh. The program, “I Shouldn’t be Alive” telecast regularly by the Discovery Channel recites hundreds of such first-hand stories of struggling for days for survival after being trapped in the harshest and remotest of locations. Such hassles and loss of lives are preposterous in an age where cutting-edge technology rule the world. An autonomous copter with autonomous human and face detection capabilities could have saved their lives in a few hours.
Target Individual Identified: This is one of the snapshots taken from the live video recorded via the on-board camera on the autonomous copter. Various snapshots were taken involving trees and more complex backgrounds. The system detected the target individual 98% of the time.
The Autonomous Copter is a type of unmanned aerial vehicle that can fly without human intervention. It can thus be used for missions where the job is too tedious or risky for manned aircrafts. Being unmanned, autonomous copters are light in weight and far more agile and thus, easily find their way around difficult terrains with very close proximity to the ground. This makes them perfect candidates for smart surveillance systems in the most adverse and precarious locations.
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