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Drones versus Deepfakes


Studio Victoria

3 minutes

When it comes to obtaining geographical imagery, you want the very best results; however, concerns are developing around the legitimacy of the produced imagery, leading us onto the topic of Deepfakes. To gain a further understanding of Deepfakes, what they are, the issues they pose and how to make sure you're getting authentic outcomes, we answer the following questions: What are Deepfakes? How are Deepfakes created? How can drones prevent Deepfake satellite imagery? And what Drone solutions do we offer? Keep reading to find out how preventing deepfakes can help you to #ONEUPYOURBUSINESS!


Deepfakes are images or videos which have been faked, showing unreal events and content. Think of Adobe Photoshop where you can alter and manipulate a picture but on another level. Deepfakes take it one step further, stitching anyone into a video or photo they never actually partook in. An example of a deepfake you may have seen is Jon Snow's apology video for the disappointing season eight finale of Game of Thrones. Whilst this is a lighthearted example, deepfakes can be malicious, dangerous and even cause national security issues.


Deepfakes use machine learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence (AI), where information is fed to these powerful technologies which detect patterns. Therefore, hours of video footage are examined and analysed, forming and developing patterns and algorithms of how a person looks in different circumstances, lighting, and angles, making a composite of the person placed into a fictional situation naturally and realistically. As well as adding audio of the person speaking words and sentences they never said (as previously shown in the Jon Snow video referred to in the first section).

ML and AI can produce deepfakes quickly; without entire studios full of experts spending weeks, months and years to create, deepfakes started to evolve. Social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter announced this year that they will ban videos modified by artificial intelligence from their sites.


It's not only celebrities and people who are subjected to deepfakes but also geographical imagery. AI-generated deepfakes on satellite imagery like maps, city spaces, the countryside can pose threats and security concerns as they create misinformation to:

  • Mislead and deceive military
  • Create hoaxes on disasters such as floods and wildfires
  • Discredit authentic satellite imagery
  • Produce incorrect routes and mission planning to trained forces

Scientists from the University of Washington (UW) are researching deepfakes to support geographers aiming to find methods to identify and detect fake satellite images and to warn of its dangers. Assistant professor of geography, Bo Zhao, at UW, who is leading the research, states "This isn’t just Photoshopping things. It’s making data look uncannily realistic,".

In an event where you need legitimate satellite imagery, drones are a reliable piece of cutting-edge technology that can gather data quickly and efficiently to provide you with high-resolution results. Depending on what information is needed, drones can be equipped with a range of equipment such as laser scanners, sensors, infrared and thermal cameras to give you the results you need and can:

  • Prevent flooding and identify leaks: In areas prone to flooding, a thermal inspection with drones can indicate where water is accumulating, areas that are draining faster and help towards draining plans to prevent catastrophic events. Thermal imaging cameras can also identify leaks and locate any damage which may be invisible to the naked eye. So regardless if you receive a hoax of flooding, drones can be in the area and analyse the situation and detect the condition of the land with crystal clear video and image evidence
  • Provide precision and accuracy: When it comes to accessing land, [drone topographic surveys]/blog/topographical-survey-explained/ "Drone topographic surveys") have the best resolution of 1 millimetre per pixel, giving you precision and accuracy at the most critical times. Drones overall offer better precision and accuracy with 0.7 centimetres per pixel with fixed-wing drones and 0.6 centimetres per pixel with multi-rotor drones compared to the standard 1.5 centimetres per pixel and, in some instances, 3 centimetres per pixels
  • Offer 3D mapping and 3D scans: Drones can perform 3D scans and 3D maps of lands, objects, structures, and buildings that can fully be integrated with Building Information Modelling (BIM) and Geographic Information System (GIS) to create highly-detailed 3D representations of your assets and is a critical technology if you want to preserve or restore listed and historic buildings
  • Stunning aerial photography and videography: Drones with high-resolution cameras can produce remarkable images and cinematic videos and can be used for a variety of presentations, including marketing and court evidence

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