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A team of AI researchers in Russia have managed to come up with one of the coolest gesture-control systems for drones that we’ve seen yet. What’s even more impressive is that it works with multiple machines simultaneously.

Controlling swarms of drones in real-time is the dream. And, when you pre-program them with advanced software and run them in unobstructed areas it’s pretty easy to accomplish.

But if you want to, say, control a swarm of drones inside an office building, in real time, things get a bit trickier.

Enter the Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology’s AI team:

Up front: It’s no small feat creating a gesture-control system for drones. First off, flying objects have their own physics to compensate for and keeping them from slamming into each other and surrounding objects is a monumental task.

Then you’ve got to figure out how to keep them from colliding with things in real-time – an undertaking made exponentially more complex if both operator and drones are entering an unexplored area.

Per the researchers‘ pre-print paper:

We propose a novel human-swarm interaction system, allowing the user to directly control a swarm of drones in a complex environment through trajectory drawing with a hand gesture interface based on the DNN-based gesture recognition.

Background: The researchers developed “Drone Paint,” a novel control system that relies on gestures to control drones. It’s called Drone Paint because, well, it’s pretty amazing at light-painting.

Light-painting is a technique that involves taking a long exposure photograph of light in motion to produce an image that appears to have objects painted on it with light.