As a Computer Vision / Machine Learning (ML) Engineer at Dedrone, can you tell us a bit more about your day-to-day activities? Does your job involve travel?
My responsibilities are to make sure that once cameras are connected to DedroneTracker.AI, they are smoothly controlled and deliver accurate detection, classification and tracking of drones. They must function in all weather, light and background conditions.
Dedrone already provides a great solution to these challenges, but standards and customer expectations are constantly rising. My day-to-day activities include research and making sure our ML stack is state-of-the art and our data (which is a crucial part of the machine learning pipeline), is acquired, processed and used according to the highest standards. Because my focus is the camera, my personal everyday goal is to make the camera win a (non-existent) battle for ”the best sensor for drone classification”.
What do you like best about working at Dedrone?
It is hard to single out the best part about working for Dedrone. There are so many! To me it is very important to know that my daily work easily translates into a positive impact on the overall solution. Since Dedrone's main focus is airspace security, knowing that every new feature and every small improvement makes the world safer adds an extra motivation.
Another great thing about Dedrone, even though it may sound cliché, is that the company tries to unite everyone and create a warm environment through shared breakfasts, barbeques, company events where we are there not only for work, but also to rest and celebrate together!
What do you think is the most important element of airspace security that the organizations you work with don't always understand?
Speaking from a computer vision engineer’s perspective, I can note that humans do most visual tasks much better than AI does — but in drone detection, it is very much the opposite: Humans can have a hard time detecting drones flying only 200 meters, whereas ML-driven cameras can perform accurately up to multiple kilometers (and that’s before you add in radio sensors!).
It’s often underestimated how much damage a single undetected drone can inflict. Organizations who still do not work with us do not always understand how important aerial security is and how crucial it is to choose the best solution (Dedrone) for this kind of threat!
Can you share a bit more about what you enjoy in your free time?
Some years ago I got excited about the idea of doing an Ironman Triathlon: swim, bike and run a total of 140.6 miles (226 km). I don’t come from a sporty background, so every leg seemed impossible, let alone doing it all in one go.
There is a reason people gravitate towards endurance sports, and it’s not because they want to be in great shape or look good. Instead, it’s because endurance sports can have a profound effect on a person by continuously expanding the limits of what is possible. This growth has become addictive to me, and the training is what I enjoy doing in my free time…finding joy in doing something that I’m not sure I’ll finish and tasting what it feels like on the other side.
Triathlons, in general, are an outdoor sport. But with recent advances in sensors and technology, you can create an indoor training set-up. I can now do running and cycling without ever sunlight. It can be mentally daunting to stay on a treadmill or roller for hours — that is why this room is usually called a “pain cave.”
I have already completed 10 triathlons of varying distances from “sprint” (less than 30 km total distance) and two full Ironman. I found my niche in half ironman and continuously try to improve my personal best (pb). My next one will be in Berlin in September. Wish me luck!
What do you love about where you live?
After moving to Kassel, I can demarcate my life in two ways. There is one before and after becoming a father, and before and after setting up an amazing pain cave in Kassel, due to cheaper housing prices. I cannot put one above the other.
And in case I do want to go outside, there are so many empty and high-quality roads without a single traffic light for tens of kilometers. This is what I love about the place I live!
April 28, 2023
November 15, 2023
About the author
Mary-Lou Smulders is the Chief Marketing Officer at Dedrone, where she leads Dedrone's global marketing and communications team.