As the number of drones in the sky increases, a University of Nebraska researcher wants people to be more at ease with the flying machines.
Dr. Brittany Duncan is an assistant professor of computer science and engineering on the Lincoln campus.
She says a lot of factors play into someone’s comfort level with drones.
“You can imagine, if something were to zoom straight up to your face, you would probably find that pretty threatening,” Duncan tells Nebraska Radio Network, “but if it were to kind of dawdle around and approach you more like a bumblebee to your side, then that might feel better.”
That is one of the things Duncan’s team is examining with the help of a National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development Program award totaling nearly $550,000 over five years.
Duncan wants drones to communicate with people in order to reduce anxieties.
Her goal is to establish set movements that will let people know what to expect from the drone.
“As people think it’s OK to fly over children’s soccer games to take video of their children, and don’t think about the fact that something could happen to this drone,” she explains, “it could come down, and how will that look, how can it communicate that to people, if it says, ‘Oh, I think I’m in a dangerous situation.’ Can it tell you that, so you know to move away from it.”
Duncan says she is surveying people on what certain drone movements could mean.
She used the movement of birds to begin developing a communication system.
AUDIO: Mike Loizzo reports [:39]