• Computers capable of recognising objects in video and responding in real time are too big and too power-hungry for small drones. The key may be to mimic how animal brains work; our brains are poor at number-crunching but can process complex sensory input faster than digital systems.
  • Bio Inspired Technologies of Boise, Idaho, is doing just that. It is building a sense-and-avoid system using a memristor, a resistor with a memory. Like the synapse in a biological brain, the memristor changes when impulses pass through it. Crucially, it is able to remember the impulse after it has stopped.
  • This capability forms the basis of a learning system that mimics neurons and the connections between them. A chip-sized neural system linked to the drone's existing camera can be trained to recognise aircraft and other hazards at long range. Bio Inspired's drone should be ready for its first flight later this year.

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