Eye charts for drones  SARAH PAVIS  ·  FEB 15 2013

Geoff Manaugh of BLDGBLOG ruminates on optical calibration targets, weird landscape relics scattered across military bases made to check the resolution of cold war era photograph-snapping spy planes. You can find one target on Google Maps here.

Although I am truly fascinated by what sorts of optical landmarks might yet be developed for field-testing the optical capabilities of drones, as if the world might soon be peppered with opthalmic infrastructure for self-training autonomous machines, it is also quite intriguing to realize that these calibration targets are, in effect, ruins, obsolete sensory hold-overs from an earlier age of film-based cameras and less-powerful lenses. Calibrating nothing, they are now just curious emblems of a previous generation of surveillance technology, robot-readable hieroglyphs whose machines have all moved on.

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