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New Drones Ensure Ideal Photographic Lighting Positions

Researchers at MIT and Cornell University will provide photographers with squadrons of small, light-equipped autonomous robots that automatically assume the right positions for photographic lighting.

With the new system, the photographer indicates the direction from which the rim light should come, and the miniature helicopter flies to that side of the subject. The photographer then specifies the width of the rim as a percentage of its initial value, repeating that process until the desired effect is achieved.

In the researchers' experiments, the robot helicopter was equipped with a continuous-light source, a photographic flash, and a laser rangefinder.

The researchers tested their prototype in a motion-capture studio, which uses a bank of high-speed cameras to measure the position of specially designed light-reflecting tags with millimeter accuracy; several such tags were affixed to the helicopter.

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