Experimental app lets you plot and preview drone flights 

Stanford PhD candidate explains potential of unmanned aerial vehicles

SAN FRANCISCO -- "Who here has crashed a drone?" asked Stanford PhD candidate Mike Roberts on stage at Hacker Connect. More than a few attendees raised their hands. Mike Roberts He then showcased software that he and his colleagues built to help drone operators avoid sideswiping buildings or careening into trees. The experimental app lets people plot flight paths for drone video shoots and 3-D scans, pointing toward a future where anyone, including real estate agents, can generate daring aerial content without manually piloting a drone. Roberts' software improves on some existing flight-planning tools by allowing users to preview proposed flights in a 3-D simulation. They also designed the app to call out stretches of flight plan that will be impossible for a drone to execute faithfully. But rather than stop at merely highlighting dicey parts of proposed flight paths, he and his colleagues built an "autocorrect" feature. This tweaks impractical stretches into via...