SKYDIO : Yet whatever happens to Skydio as a company, its flavour of  autonomous tech seems likely to become ubiquitous.

How Skydio has achieved autonomy is, at bottom, a marvel of software rather hardware, and the  software is likely to get cheaper and better quiet quickly.

THERE are two basic ways for  computers  to process the visual world . They can use cameras alone,  or they can use  depth sensors, like lasers or radar, that precisely determine where objects are in space.

Most self-driving car mechanisms use expensive laser sensors, known as lider, a spanning a disk that sits on the car's roof like a propeller beanie.

Lidar was the key technology at issue in Waymo's now settled trade secrets law suit against Uber.  The trial surfaced a note from Travis Kalanick  Uber's former chief executive, that underscored Lidar's importance :

''Laser is the sauce,'' he wrote.

But to Skydio, laser wasn't the sauce. Lasers aren't only expensive; they're also heavy and bulky. Cameras, meanwhile, are  plentiful and cheap.

Several years ago, Skydio took a gamble; it would only use cameras, arranged in eyelike pairs on every side of the drone, and hope that it could  get laserlike accuracy using ever-improving artificial intelligence techniques.

''A bird doesn't need a lidar to fly,'' Mr. Bry told me.

As I watched the  RI tail Mr. Bry, I played the scene forward in my mind.

What happens when dozens of hundreds of runners  and bikers and skiers and hikers and tourists begin sitting out their own self-flying GoPros to record themselves?

Our society has proved to be in thrall  to photography, if you can throw up a camera and get a shot of you reaching the summit, who's not going to do it?

WHICH  brings me to the escape plan. How do you lose an RI  that has been told follow you?  Here's what worked for me :

Find a tree, Run around it very precisely, just fast enough to stay exactly opposite the drone, so the  tree trunk  blocks its view of you for seconds at a time. Do it just right and the bird will lose you,  stopping in its tracks, confused.

*But I don't imagine this trick will work for long*. 


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