The Israeli facial recognition specialist AnyVision is trying to patent a system that would give drones the ability to adjust their position in the sky to scan the face of a person on the ground. The patent was filed in the US in the summer of 2020, and was published earlier this month.
The system described in the patent would make it easier to use drones in biometric surveillance applications. While drones are able to cover a large area, they often struggle when asked to identify individual faces, due to the steep angles that often exist between a flying, drone-mounted camera and the face of a person far below.
The AnyVision solution is designed to fix that problem. A drone outfitted with the technology would be able to calculate the angle between the drone and its target, and would then be able to move to a better angle that allows it to perform a more accurate facial recognition scan.
According to AnyVision, the ‘Adaptive Positioning of Drones for Enhanced Face Recognition’ system is designed primarily for commercial applications. For example, delivery drones could use it to make sure that a package reaches its intended recipient, or they could be used to monitor the safety of employees working in dangerous environments like mines.
Privacy advocates, on the other hand, expressed concern about the potential military and law enforcement applications. While traditional security cameras are set in a fixed location, the drones would be able to move, essentially eliminating anonymity in public spaces.
AnyVision insisted that its technology is not being used in any weapons development projects. However, it has acknowledged that the Israeli military has deployed the its facial recognition tech at the country’s borders. Microsoft also conducted an independent audit of AnyVision in response to allegations that the company had provided the technology for an Israeli military surveillance operation in the West Bank. The audit ultimately concluded that the allegations were false, though Microsoft nevertheless decided to divest from AnyVision before announcing that it would not make minority investments in any facial recognition startups moving forward.
AnyVision has emphasized the need for diverse data sets to guard against algorithmic bias in facial recognition systems. The company has also leveraged its facial recognition technology in its contactless access control solution.
Source: Fast Company
February 22, 2021 – by Eric Weiss