In Brief

Like those other faithful non-human companions, a new drone can detect human emotions

As more and more people purchase and use drones, they play an important role in documenting life’s small and epic moments. Royal College of Art graduate student Eirini Malliaraki wants drones to be more than useful photographers, but also faithful companions. So she programmed a drone that is able to detect and understand human emotions.

The drone has the ability to understand five emotions: fear, joy, surprise, anger and sadness. After sensing any of these, the drone responds by moving in a certain manner as a form of expression. The drone studies the human face and gestures to figure out what they suggest, then responds accordingly. For example, the drone will respond to fear by slowing down and dropping low, making sure it backs off slowly so it does not alarm the person. On the other hand, when someone is joyful and excited, the drone will do a playful flip and bounce around.

The designer wants the drone to feel like a loyal pet that is in tune with your emotions. Although it may sound a little bizarre, it is not so unusual to consider a drone as more than a device. People are strongly attached to other objects, like their cars and smartphones. Implementing interactive design gives drones the ability to be more than a toy or tool. As their popularity continues to grow, it may be beneficial to program these devices to respond quickly and carefully to humans.

Natural Human-Drone Interaction

As more and more people purchase and use drones, they play an important role in documenting life’s small and epic moments. Royal College of Art graduate student Eirini Malliaraki wants drones to be more than useful photographers, but also faithful companions. So she programmed a drone that is able to detect and understand human emotions.

The drone has the ability to understand five emotions: fear, joy, surprise, anger and sadness. After sensing any of these, the drone responds by moving in a certain manner as a form of expression. The drone studies the human face and gestures to figure out what they suggest, then responds accordingly. For example, the drone will respond to fear by slowing down and dropping low, making sure it backs off slowly so it does not alarm the person. On the other hand, when someone is joyful and excited, the drone will do a playful flip and bounce around.