On the eve of debuting her album Artpop, Lady Gaga stepped inside a drone and flew… several feet. Her drone dress, fitting with the Gaga aesthetic, blends the classical forms of a Venus de Milo-esque torso with the sleek white color scheme of the space age and creates something that feels like science fiction.
The flying dress, dubbed Voltanis, looks futuristic, but the technology behind it is surprisingly mundane. Hexarotors, drones that fly like helicopters with six rotors providing lift, are pretty common, and small ones have even delivered packages in China. The Voltanis that Gaga wears has six larger rotors, and works in much the same way.
Organizations like the Federal Aviation Administration prefer terms like unmanned aircraft to describe drones, but in this case that doesn’t match perfectly; the Voltanis clearly had a passenger. Instead, what makes it a drone is the location of the pilot. A technician steered the dress remotely with a controller.
Gaga’s dress, designed more for spectacle than as a practical transport, didn’t carry her all that far, but it illustrates the vast range of possibilities with drone technology. Because it was flown indoors, it doesn’t clash with FAA rules against unauthorized commercial drone use, but had it flown outside, it might have.
All this raises a new question about drones: when will the FAA let Lady Gaga fly freely?
Going by the FAA’s recently released roadmap, sometime between 2016 and 2020.
Watch Gaga fly again from another angle: