You've already chosen your study programme? Apply online now.

The Development of Drones with Artificial Intelligence

  -   5. May 2017
Source: Powie/

“What I cannot create, I do not understand”—Richard Feynman.
Elon Musk, Sam Harris, Stephen Hawking and Nick Bostrom are the most brilliant people regarding the development of Artificial Intelligence. They are seriously concerned about the fast progress of development: We need to be careful with these technologies as long as we can control it

The unreal development of Drones

When we are thinking about a small device with four propellers which is making an annoying noise, controlled with a weird remote – we may think about a drone. The word “Drone” gets more and more common over the past 5 Years. “It is the most sold toy in 2016” – Jack Ma, Alibaba CEO ( But being precise, the word “Drone” means something different: A drone is a device, which takes certain actions by itself, without user interaction. But is Artificial Intelligence already used to make drones fly autonomously without the interaction of the pilot?

DJI, one of the most successful producers of consumer drones worldwide, has the technology of camera drones revolutionized. In 2016, it is possible to buy a drone, with a gimbal (autonomously working stabilizer for the Camera), a Full HD camera and an autopilot, for under 600$. We can fly more than 6 kilometers away, get a clear video, and let the drone fly back to us, without even making a single action. We can say, the development of autonomous intelligence in drones increased dramatically the last 5 years. It is no longer a privilege of the military to have autonomous flying and self-stabilizing “Air-vehicles”, “Quadcopter” or “Drones” – however we call it.

Artificial Intelligence of OpenAI

But all these functions and technology’s we already have built in a drone are just one step of the revolution. Elon Musk, co-founder of Tesla and SpaceX has founded a Company called “OpenAI” which is specialized on creating a “Safe” Artificial Intelligence. The Company makes a huge progress in building self-thinking systems. They launched a program which will be able to understand our world by receiving pictures of it– soon.

The Program is learning by itself and creates algorithms to read data out of given pictures. The difference between artificial thinking like Siri from apple is doing, and the artificial thinking of OpenAI, is tremendous. Siri is programmed to react to specific inputs and actions – this is not the real artificial intelligence. Neither artificial intelligence are robots, who are walking around, speaking and looking like human beings. This is more the world of Movie Creators. “This imagination is just the finger of Artificial Intelligence. We will be able to learn from our systems. There is no need, to feed programs with information’s, there is more the need to prevent systems to gain more knowledge when we don´t want it to get more intelligence – Elon Musk” ( OpenAI is learning on its own, and can improve it skills without the interaction of anyone.

What can Drones do with Artificial Intelligence?

Emergency Drones, who are flying directly to the concerned Person who needs a medical treatment, scanning a Field for Farming to make shure to fertilize on the correct positions, or even Police Drones equipped with a Camera and pepper spray, are already in beta phases and are working perfectly. It is just a matter of time and regulations to make these existing Drones legal. But a self-learning Drone, which needs no action of a human being to start flying, scanning or fertilizing, is by far the scariest thing all entrepreneurs around the world can imagine. It would be a loss of control and security. Without going into conspiracy theories, imagine a flying object, which can fly over hours and is connected to the internet. With every second it is getting more and more intelligent. It will be able to load its batteries without a human being. For example: It can refine its software to have a more precise face detection to recognize emotions, or even develop a gravity control which makes it more difficult to bring it back down on the ground. It will be more intelligent than we are. Especially the imagination of OpenAI build in a Camera Drones can be scary. A Flying drone, with an “eye” from which it is learning from – unlimited pictures, unlimited knowledge, unlimited distance.

Who wrote it?

Nicolas Eckhardrt

Nicolas Eckhardrt studies at the European Management School in Mainz.


Tabea Arnold
09-05-2017 16:09

Applying Artificial intelligence to drones is very interesting and now is the best time to innovate in this industry. There is, for instance, the drone ALPHA which also uses AI. The program, AI, is not powered by a particularly powerful computer. It runs on a normal, ordinary desktop PC. Therefore, hardware costs to run AI are not high but the performance is extraordinary. This drone is used by the military and could fight aerial battles without human interaction. When applying AI into drones there are several advantages, for example, in the military or in the delivery industry. However, there are little rules and regulations by the government concerning drones and Artificial Intelligence separately, let alone private drones which use AI and there fly without direct human control. One has to wait and see how laws will effect this industry.

Maximilian Lenhardt
08-05-2017 13:45

Very interesting and quite scary to know that drones may become able to learn on their own and even to stay charged without human help. This article reminded me as well of the "Terminator" franchise and of "I, Robot", when artificial intelligence goes too far and takes control over the human race. But on the one hand we keep wanting to develop drones to make them more intelligent and autonomous, while on the other hand no one considers what might happen when they actually do become as intelligent as we are or even more intelligent. In my opinion, drones should have a remote-controlled emergency stop switch, just in case they do leave human control, which I hope does never happen. I agree with Moritz that artificial intelligence should always be restricted by laws, regulations and by human control. Yes, some innovations and steps are necessary, but a human should always have control over his creation.

Moritz Wellershaus
06-05-2017 02:01

Drones are a fun toy, a great camera and a visionary innovation opening the air to humans through a display. No wonder it was the most sold toy in 2016. Now, this “toy” is changing into a potential everyday helper with an artificial intelligence. I think this is dangerous and not only because I watched the movies Terminator or IRobot. If a robot can use the Internet and own experiences to get smarter and overtake us in our thinking, I believe we then are creating our downfall. As Nicolas said, they do not need a human to stay charged. This creeps me out because humans should always have the control over what they have made. Just take a look at our plastic production or the lumbering on our planet. This has gotten out of control and we are harming ourselves. Now we would be creating something that could harm us. It is risky to let something with the possibility to think faster and more efficient than a human being, to go on patrols or operate in on our world by itself. In my opinion this is a threat to mankind and should not be underestimated. I really consist on keeping drones to an automatic degree at first; until technology is that far that an artificial intelligence can always be handled under control. It should never be able to leave this control. I do not trust artificial intelligence nevertheless how innovative and advanced the technology may be. Luckily artificial intelligences are still under strong law control.

Mona Anthes
05-05-2017 18:50

I have never been that interested into drones and I always thought about them as just a toy. Reading your article made me realize that drones are way more than just flying toys that can make pretty pictures from above and included some really interesting ideas and facts. The numerous options how to use drones are fascinating and especially in connection with artificial intelligence. But as you and also Tabea mentioned it brings major dangers with it and is kind of scary. I think the development of drones is a very exciting topic but has to be observed and controlled in a very attentive manner so it does not get out of hand and harm the society.



Corporate Partners


European Mangement School © 2018 | Imprint | Data Protection