The United States Air Force wants to be armed with unmanned aerial vehicles that can recognize people by their faces. To achieve the goal, the service invests hundreds of thousands of dollars.
What is known
The facial recognition technology is called SAFT and is based on machine learning. The software developer is RealNetworks. It received $729,056 from the US Air Force. Facial recognition technology will be used on small drones as part of special operations.
RealNetworks is adapting SAFR technology for deployment on unmanned aerial systems. This will require software integration with the UAV hardware and software stack, incl. on-board computing systems, communication systems and remote control systems.
Small drones mean drones like AeroVironment’s RQ-11B Raven (pictured above). They are launched by soldiers in the field without additional equipment and often do not carry missiles or bombs, but are used for surveillance and reconnaissance.
The contract between RealNetworks and the US Air Force does not include the integration of the SAFR facial recognition system into large drones like the MQ-9 Reaper and MQ-1 Predator. The agreement mentions that small reconnaissance drones with the SAFR system will be used outside the United States.
Source: Vice, Interesting Engineering