Visual Journalism, AI & Automization

Farewell Multidrone!

For more than three years we learnt how to fly. We flew far and high, but we also had some crashes (fortunately, nobody was hurt). In the H2020 Research and Innovation Action MULTIDRONE, we developed a platform for autonomous drone flights and tested this platform in experimental media productions. Here’s a quick review of the project that was successfully completed with an excellent review in February 2020.

MULTIDRONE assembled some of the crème de la crème in UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) and general robotics research and development across Europe. Universities and research institutes (Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, University of Sevilla, Bristol University, IST Lisboa), drone technology manufacturers (THALES, Alerion) and media companies (RAI, and of course DW) came together in order to explore what we called the future of media production.

Specifically, we worked on the following topics:

  • UAV design and implementation;
  • Drone communication infrastructure;
  • UAV control interfaces;
  • Visual, 3D and sensor data analysis and machine learning for safe and autonomous drone planning and navigation;
  • UAV safety and regulations;
  • UAV flight/formation control, cooperative planning and navigation, decisional and operational autonomy;
  • Media production-related visual information processing and analysis, such as target detection and tracking, point of interest detection and intelligent camera control.

As the technology developed in MULTIDRONE was supposed to be tested in experimental media productions, our activities also included the analysis and implementation of media pre-production and production protocols as well as the development of a specific drone cinematography.

The project was highly challenging, not only regarding the scientific part and the joint work on hardware development. Above all, guaranteeing the safety of all participants and also third parties that we needed to involve in the media productions, added another layer of responsibilities to the consortium.

All these challenges were met by a fantastic spirit in the consortium. We literally spent weeks together in often remote places in Germany, France and Spain. There, we jointly worked on the drones and tested them in various media production with rowers, cyclists and parkour runners. A few barbecues and a couple of beers (in pre-corona times) helped to avoid any cabin fever. The good spirit and of course the outstanding results of the project can be seen in our MULTIDRONE feature that was also broadcast globally on the official DW channels:

Nico Heise
Tilman Wagner
Tim Koch