AnyVision patent filing suggests face biometrics for delivery drones

Watch is on for similar technology use by military, police

facial recognition surveillance crowds

A patent application filed by AnyVision for a system to adjust the flying position of drones to capture images for face biometric comparisons has been published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

The patent for ‘Adaptive positioning of drones for enhanced face recognition’ describes a drone recognizing a potential target and adjusting its position to increase the probability score for a match. The system could involve multiple different attempts to find an angle that aligns more with the target’s head pose or avoids an object occluding the target’s face in the image. Acquiring a good quality image while moving or hovering is also addressed.

The one application described in the patent filing, beyond identifying or authenticating an individual, is package delivery.

The biometric technology could also be useful in smart cities, and provide functions besides surveillance, AnyVision CEO Avi Golan told Forbes, though he does not expect it to be widely deployed any time soon.

“I think it’s more futuristic technology, but I want to have it in the back of my pocket once it’s more accepted by humanity,” Golan says.

A joint venture between AnyVision shareholders and Israeli defense contractor Rafael Advanced Defense Systems dubbed SightX recently demonstrated biometric drones developed for military use.

Research projects by the U.S. Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) include the biometric detection of people from a distance, and that project includes both facial recognition and ‘whole-body’ recognition.

UK police drone use sparks concern

Sacramento Police Department Lieutenant and Drones Lead Mike Hutchins tells Forbes police drones with facial recognition suggested the technology will likely be available to police at some point in the future, but a balance with privacy rights must be struck, and the department has no plans to pursue such an application at this time.

Meanwhile in the UK, police used drones to monitor political protests, including Black Lives Matter marches, according to documents received by UK Drone Watch.

Protests monitored by drones also included a rally by far-right groups in Nottingham, an animal rights demonstration, Extinction Rebellion protests and HS2 marches.

Between January and October of 2020, police used drones to monitor more than three dozen protests in ten different jurisdictions around Britain. Police policies on the use of the technology, and images gathered by it, are mostly not publicly available, and appear to be inconsistent, according to the report.

NATO head says investment in advanced technology needed

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg says the organization needs to embrace advanced capabilities and technologies, and to develop common standards around them, including for ethics, Defense News reports.

Stoltenberg was speaking at a virtual press conference, and referred explicitly to both drones and facial recognition, but in different contexts. He mentioned drones as part of the alliance’s need  for communication technologies, and face biometrics along with AI, quantum computing, and autonomous systems as disruptive technologies of strategic importance.

The Secretary-General is pushing for an initiative to preserve what he says is NATO’s “technological edge” under the forthcoming ‘NATO 2030’ project.

This post was updated at 5:57pm Eastern on February 16, 2021 to clarify that AnyVision shareholders are partners in SightX, rather than the company itself.

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