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Drones With 'Most Advanced AI Ever' Coming Soon To Your Local Police Department

#artificialintelligence

Three years ago, Customs and Border Protection placed an order for self-flying aircraft that could launch on their own, rendezvous, locate and monitor multiple targets on the ground without any human intervention. In its reasoning for the order, CBP said the level of monitoring required to secure America's long land borders from the sky was too cumbersome for people alone. To research and build the drones, CBP handed $500,000 to Mitre Corp., a trusted nonprofit Skunk Works that was already furnishing border police with prototype rapid DNA testing and smartwatch hacking technology. They were "tested but not fielded operationally" as "the gap from simulation to reality turned out to be much larger than the research team originally envisioned," a CBP spokesperson says. This year, America's border police will test automated drones from Skydio, the Redwood City, Calif.-based startup that on Monday announced it had raised an additional $170 million in venture funding at a valuation of $1 billion.


Drones With 'Most Advanced AI Ever' Coming Soon To Your Local Police Department

#artificialintelligence

Three years ago, Customs and Border Protection placed an order for self-flying aircraft that could launch on their own, rendezvous, locate and monitor multiple targets on the ground without any human intervention. In its reasoning for the order, CBP said the level of monitoring required to secure America's long land borders from the sky was too cumbersome for people alone. To research and build the drones, CBP handed $500,000 to Mitre Corp., a trusted nonprofit Skunk Works that was already furnishing border police with prototype rapid DNA testing and smartwatch hacking technology. They were "tested but not fielded operationally" as "the gap from simulation to reality turned out to be much larger than the research team originally envisioned," a CBP spokesperson says. This year, America's border police will test automated drones from Skydio, the Redwood City, Calif.-based startup that on Monday announced it had raised an additional $170 million in venture funding at a valuation of $1 billion. That brings the total raised for Skydio to $340 million.


Cops across the U.S. are buying AI drones

#artificialintelligence

Skydio has been making headlines lately for being the first U.S.-based drone manufacturer to be valued at more than $1 billion in fundraising. The company has found a willing customer base in police forces across the United States, too, according to a report from Forbes. Nothing to be concerned about, surely, just flying artificial intelligence controlled by a group known for its abuses of power. At least 20 police agencies across the country own drones from Skydio, based on information Forbes obtained through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests and Skydio's own public announcements. Those agencies include major cities like Boston and Austin, according to the report.


Skydio Drone Sells 'True Autonomy' for Civilian Use Cases

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In 2019, drone startups raised a record $1.2 billion in funding, according to Drone Industry Insights. It's a different story in 2020: Through mid-August, only about $240 million in disclosed capital has flowed into private companies, based on public data. It seems the investment side of the industry has hit a lull if not outright slump. Further evidence: Chinese drone manufacturer DJI, which owns more than 75% of the consumer drone market, has been shedding staff in a major reorganization for the last few months. That makes the $100 million mega-round picked up by Skydio in April all the more noteworthy.


This Drone Maker Is Swooping In Amid US Pushback Against DJI

WIRED

These being pandemic times, a recent visit to the Silicon Valley offices of drone startup Skydio involved slipping past dumpsters into the deserted yard behind the company's loading dock. Moments later, a black quadcopter eased out of the large open door sounding like a large and determined wasp. Skydio is best known for its "selfie drones," which use onboard artificial intelligence to automatically follow and film a person, whether they're running through a forest or backcountry skiing. The most recent model, released last fall, costs $999. The larger and more severe-looking machine that greeted WIRED has similar autonomous flying skills but aims to expand the startup's technology beyond selfies into business and government work, including the military.