Light lets us see the things that surround us, but what if we could also use it to see things hidden around corners? It sounds like science fiction, but that’s the idea behind a new algorithm out of MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) — and its discovery has implications for everything from emergency response to self-driving cars.
In recent years, a host of Hollywood blockbusters — including “The Fast and the Furious 7,” “Jurassic World,” and “The Wolf of Wall Street” — have included aerial tracking shots provided by drone helicopters outfitted with cameras. Those shots required separate operators for the drones and the cameras, and careful planning to avoid collisions. But a team of researchers from MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) and ETH Zurich hope to make drone cinematography more accessible, simple, and reliable.
Researchers at CSAIL, New York University, and the University of Toronto have developed a computer system whose ability to produce a variation of a character in an unfamiliar writing system, on the first try, is indistinguishable from that of humans. That means that the system in some sense discerns what’s essential to the character — its general structure — but also what’s inessential — the minor variations characteristic of any one instance of it.
For all the progress made in self-driving technologies, there still aren’t many places where they can actually drive. Companies like Google only test their fleets in major cities where they’ve spent countless hours meticulously labeling the exact 3-D positions of lanes, curbs, off-ramps, and stop signs.