Reinventing User Interaction with Flying Cameras

Compared with handheld cameras widely used today, a camera mounted on a flying drone affords the user much greater freedom in finding the point of view for a perfect photo shot.  In the future, many people may take along compact flying cameras and use their touchscreen mobile devices as viewfinders to take photos. Our goal is to explore the user interaction design and system implementation issues  for a flying camera, which  leverages the autonomous flying capability of a drone-mounted camera for a great photo-taking experience.


Z. Lan, M. Shridhar, D. Hsu, and S. Zhao. XPose: Reinventing user interaction with flying cameras. In Proc. Robotics: Science & Systems, 2017.

XPose is a new touch-based interactive system for photo taking, designed to take advantage of the autonomous flying capability of a drone-mounted camera. It enables the user to interact with photos directly and focus on taking photos instead of piloting the drone. XPose introduces a two-stage eXplore-and-comPose approach to photo taking in static scenes. In the first stage, the user explores the “photo space” through predefined interaction modes: Orbit, Pano, and Zigzag. Under each mode, the camera visits many points of view (POVs) and takes exploratory photos through autonomous drone flying. In the second stage, the user restores a selected POV with the help of a gallery preview and uses direct manipulation gestures to refine the POV and compose a final photo.

Perspective-2-Point (P2P)

Z. Lan, D. Hsu, and G. Lee. Solving the perspective-2-point problem for flying-camera photo composition. In Proc. IEEE Conf. on Computer Vision & Pattern Recognition, 2018.

This work focuses on a common situation in photo-taking, i.e., the underlying viewpoint search problem for composing a photo with two objects of interest. We model it as a Perspective-2-Point (P2P) problem, which is under-constrained to determine the six degrees-of-freedom camera pose uniquely. By incorporating the user’s composition requirements and minimizing the camera’s flying distance, we form a constrained nonlinear optimization problem and solve it in closed form.