Intel Drone follows biker radness through trees

New technology from Intel allows self aware drone to avoid collisions

Cameras Gear News
AscTec Firefly with RealSense 3D camera.

AscTec Firefly with RealSense 3D camera (click to enlarge).

Ever since the introduction of the Airdog Follow Me drone and the Lily Drone visions of a personal videographer have captured the imagination of mountain bikers world-wide. After all, reliving your adventures is fun, but video shoots and even photo shoots are not.

Mountain biking is about flow, exhilaration and speed and a single video shoot can take many minutes or hours. So who wouldn’t want a drone that captures all the shots and footage of the best moments while not having an interrupted good time in the woods.

But reality dictates that this is a hornet’s nest of technical issues. One of the biggest issues is that of obstacles and safety. Mountain biking is sometimes done in the open but it is most often done in the woods, between and under trees. Follow-me drones can’t do that. They’re starting to follow a rider or a sensor on the rider, but the whole issue of trees and obstacles is a deal breaker. Think Star Wars and the stormtrooper chase scene through the woods.

Using an Intel RealSense camera and CPU with the collision avoidance technology, this drone can follow a rider even when confronted with obstacles.

Using an Intel RealSense camera and CPU with the collision avoidance technology, this drone can follow a rider even when confronted with obstacles (click to enlarge).

Mtbr has been in discussion with a few drone manufacturers about a controlled demonstration of their ‘follow-me’ capability. But it’s always been dogged by delays and a full evaluation of the route, line of sight and ‘non’ presence of trees.

So this new technology from Intel is huge. It features spatial, real-time obstacle recognition that allows a drone to follow a target and react to the environment. The fact that a $150 billion company is focused in this area is exciting indeed. We knew that this problem was not going to be solved by a Kickstarter project here and there.

Will it the hands of consumers soon and at an affordable price? Will there be trail access and safety issues? There’s a lot of questions to be resolved for sure. But the bigger question is “Will you ride rad enough for the footage to be interesting?”

Photo Thumbnails (click to enlarge)

About the author: Francis Cebedo

The founder of mtbr and roadbikereview, Francis Cebedo believes that every cyclist has a lot to teach and a lot to learn. "Our websites are communal hubs for sharing cycling experiences, trading adventure stories, and passing along product information and opinions." Francis' favorite bike is the last bike he rode, whether it's a dirt jumper, singlespeed, trail bike, lugged commuter or ultralight carbon road steed. Indeed, Francis loves cycling in all its forms and is happiest when infecting others with that same passion. Francis also believes that IPA will save America.


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  • Allmountaineer says:

    Nice, this is what I’ve been waiting for…!

  • J. Random Psycho says:

    So much potential for abuse there it’s dystopian whatever way I think of it. o_O

  • Chris says:

    Don’t knock it for 12 mph. This is the beginning of a very novel technology that will have application to many fields. This is a big breakthrough that will only be refined. It will only be matter of time before these will scream at 60 mph through forests hopefully doing something as innocuous as filming people having fun.

  • cruz5280 says:

    My initial thought is this would appeal to self absorbed riders that want to show off their moves via Social Media….BUT this also has more practical application. I’m not hatin, just sayin.

  • Roger says:

    we have enough issues with the horses on the trail, this would spook the horses.

    I’ve been mtn biking and snowboarding for over 30 yrs now and I really hate that everything has to some sort of a camera, computer, screen etc etc. I recently seen two pair of snowboard goggles over $600 (more then my board), they have a little screen in the lower corner so you can see how fast you’re going, how many runs you’ve done, see if you have a text/email etc etc (accident waiting to happen). I guess I’ll never understand (I dont even Facebook), my idea of riding (either) is peace and quite, explore and maybe just maybe the occasional picture with a camera. In the 30 years of riding I bet I dont even have 20 pictures, all of my memories are in my head, heart and buddies memories

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