Skip to Content
Smart cities

This drone learned to fly through streets by studying driverless-car data

January 26, 2018

Simple sensors and stripped-down AI could enable drones to zip through cities more safely.

The problem: Autonomous cars use heavy sensors and computers to work out where they are and how to act. It would be good if drones could fly autonomously in a similar way, but they can’t haul much weight.

A solution: IEEE Spectrum reports that University of Zurich researchers built a lightweight AI that gives drones some autonomy. DroNet AI, which was trained on data from autonomous cars and GoPro-toting bicycles, runs on a simple processor. It analyzes images from a camera to provide speed and steering commands.

What it does: Drones using the software can fly through city streets by themselves—following road markings and avoiding collisions with obstacles.

Why it matters: If we’re to have drone deliveries hit city skies, it would be good if the aircraft could properly navigate by themselves. This research takes us a step closer to that.

Keep Reading

Most Popular

Geoffrey Hinton tells us why he’s now scared of the tech he helped build

“I have suddenly switched my views on whether these things are going to be more intelligent than us.”

Meet the people who use Notion to plan their whole lives

The workplace tool’s appeal extends far beyond organizing work projects. Many users find it’s just as useful for managing their free time.

Learning to code isn’t enough

Historically, learn-to-code efforts have provided opportunities for the few, but new efforts are aiming to be inclusive.

Deep learning pioneer Geoffrey Hinton has quit Google

Hinton will be speaking at EmTech Digital on Wednesday.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.