Flights Of Fancy: New Drone Programmed To Paint Pointillist Portraits

Despite their reputation for being death-dealing, bomb-bearing little robo-bats, drones have been taking flight for many moregood reasons these days.  Now, with robotic art competitions actually becoming a thing, a new technique for creating masterpieces has emerged thanks to drone technology:  pointillist portraits created in flight.

Make art, not war.
(Image courtesy dailymail.co.uk.)


According to The Daily Mail UK, this Da Vinci of a drone is just a simple palm-sized quadcopter that uses a small arm and an ink-soaked sponge to follow its algorithmic orders.  Using complex algorithms in its flight plans, and a motion-capture system to coherently maintain its position, the drone uses a “stippling” technique to apply thousands of small dots to a surface.  From there, an image emerges.




The project was conceived by a team at McGill University, who oversaw the completion of the automated art.  Portraits of celebrities including Grace Kelly and Che Guevara were created using a small amount of ink, with the drone doing multiple flybys and attacks with the paint to create each pointillist dot.

Around 2,000 dots were needed to create Grace Kelly’s portrait, with the drone requiring a recharge of batteries and a fresh stash of ink every 70 dots or so.  The accuracy of the portrait depends on the robot creating in wind-free conditions (due to its small size) and aligning well with retroflective markers to orient itself via the motion capture system.  Overall results?  Not bad.


To be fair, it's hard capturing bountiful human beauty in any medium.
(Image courtesy dailymail.co.uk.)


While the initial efforts weren’t as accurate as projected, what great artist doesn’t have a learning curve?  In the future, these drones could be used to apply murals on difficult or hard-to-reach surfaces.  Yes, that probably means drone graffiti will be a thing, in the future.  But hey, it probably will look cooler than the results of a robot tattoo artist.

Some mediums should be left to the living!


Um, thanks but no thanks, future.
(Image courtesy technabob.com.)

1 comment:

  1. Now that is some interesting drone use :) You just gave me some ideas for my micro drone :D As a thank you, may I suggest that you take a look at the best civilian drone models list? With detailed reves on each model, with both pros and cons http://mydronelab.com/best-pick/best-civilian-drone.html

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