Drone technology takes public art to new heights – literally! Paint By Drone uses remote controlled aerial vehicles to assist artists to safely create artworks on multistorey building facades.
Italian architect Carlo Ratti's Paint By Drone system uses remotely controlled flying robots to cover buildings in giant paintings. Designed to turn scaffolding into giant canvases, the system uses a formation of small unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to create artworks on blank surfaces. Each drone carries its own tank of paint and uses CMYK colours to replicate the traditional printing process.
The robots are managed remotely, with their positions individually tracked, and are able to recreate any artwork submitted to a mobile app.
"We are keen to explore their artistic use, particularly as a way to engage with the built environment," says Ratti. "What we call 'phygital graffiti' is the idea of leveraging drones, and more generally digital technologies, to create participatory works of public art."
Two Paint By Drone pieces are planned for this year in Berlin and Turin, which will see scaffold sheeting in the cities covered in a giant artwork created by the system.
Details are yet to be finalised, but the artwork could be created by an artist first and coloured in by drones – controlled by an app so that people can choose their own piece of the canvas to paint. There's also the potential for passers-by to draw their own designs, which will be recreated by the robots.
"Imagine how this could make the realisation of works of public art both easier and safer, in urban contexts as well as the infrastructure level – for example alongside highways, within railway galleries, on bridges and viaducts," Ratti claims.
The system is still in development, but Ratti hopes to be able to eventually use it on any vertical surface.