November 3, 2015

Drones are tons of fun to fly. But every time you take one out for a spin, there’s a threat waiting to spoil your day aloft: Trees. Colliding with a big, lumbering oak or elm can spell the end for most small drones.

Thankfully, researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory have developed a drone that’s capable of detecting and avoiding trees before it meets its untimely demise.

Motherboard reports the aircraft continuously scans objects in its immediate path. Its onboard computer then decides whether evasive action is necessary. This all happens nearly instantaneously; the drone isn’t programmed with any prior knowledge of the obstacles in its route beforehand.

Watch MIT’s tree-ducking drone in all its automated glory above.

Write to Alex Fitzpatrick at alex.fitzpatrick@time.com.

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