Watch this drone draw on walls

Researchers from MIT’s Fluid Interface Lab have developed a drone that can write on your walls.

Group members Sang-won Leigh, Harshit Agrawal, and Pattie Maes merged art and machinery when they created the Flying Pantograph, which equips a drone with a pen controlled by human motions. Basically, a human can draw with an imaginary pen on a horizontal surface and the drone translates his or her movements to create physical artwork.

(Image Credit: MIT Fluid Interfaces Lab)

“Not only mechanically extending a human artist, the drone plays a crucial part of the expression as its own motion dynamics and software intelligence add new visual language to the art. This agency forms a strong link between a human artist and the canvas, however, in the same time, is a deliberate programmatic disconnect that offers space for exploiting machine aesthetics as a core expression medium,” the team wrote on its project page.

The first version, the Panto 1, was able to create some distorted imagery on a vertical wall with the help of software algorithms and aerodynamics. The team’s updated version, Panto 2, employs a more powerful drone body that communicates with computers. Its controller signals are intercepted by a hacking mechanism and then replaced with computer-generated signals.

So when a human draws, the drone establishes a two-way communication and moves the pen in small strokes for more precise images. Alternatively, a human can draw in long, quick strokes and the drone can still keep up.


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