UT researchers build outdoor arena to test autonomous drones

The Machine Games Project will help research drones (KXAN Photo)
The Machine Games Project will help research drones (KXAN Photo)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — There is a lot to learn when it comes to the technology behind drones and how it could eventually affect our everyday lives. That’s what researchers at the University of Texas are looking to answer with the Machine Games project.

The overall goal of the project is to make drones a part of everyday life, helping with tasks from searching for an open parking spot to delivering a pizza without human assistance. UT Professor Todd Humphreys says that drone technology is primitive and they are in the beginning stages of discovering all it can really do in the next few years.

“We might have 10 or 50 of these things flying around the downtown just keeping an eye on things,” he said.

Researchers are also exploring how one person can control a swarm of drones all at once, how to stop a rogue drone and how a drone’s sensors can be less capable of hacking. They are also developing drones to be able to respond to obstacles on their own.

“Testing drones in this arena will help provide a better idea of how they’ll respond when they’re put to task outside.”

Researchers say this is really the beginning for drones and eventually they could assist in making maps of Austin, monitoring traffic or crime eventually, assisting police in monitoring high crime areas or watching the perimeter of a home.

“It’s not so far fetched to think that every home could have a drone monitoring its security,” Humphreys said.

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