Currently, the European Space Agency (ESA) is in the process of developing autonomous spaceships. However, the agency requires huge amount of data for simulation purposes, so that it can later tweak the artificial intelligence accordingly. For this purpose, it is collaborating with Parrot AR.Drone creators to launch an app and crowdsource data from users.
Parrot AR.Drone is currently known very well for providing users with quadcopters. These quadcopters are controlled by the users with the help of the iOS and Android apps that are also provided by the company that creates these quadcopters.
Now, such users who own the Parrot AR.Drone quadcopter, can directly help ESA by downloading a new AstroDrone app. The app essentially turns the process of controlling the quadcopter’s flight into a game, so that the pilots actually feel like they are landing their quadcopter at a dock in International Space Station.
The idea here is to see how humans interact with drones and then utilize this info to reproduce the flight process of the artificial intelligence that will be used in navigating the autonomous spaceship.
Nearly half a million Parrot AR.Drone units have been sold by now. This means that if users of these quadcopters decide to join this program, they may turn up millions of hours of precious data which ESA can then use for the aforementioned purposes.
Moreover, ESA promises that it wouldn’t gather any personal information of the pilots during the program, “We will not receive any raw video images or GPS measurements, only the abstract mathematical image features that the drone itself perceives for navigation, along with velocity readings.”