Sketchy MIT Drone Draws As It Flies

Meet the Flying Pantograph

MIT Fluid Interfaces's Flying Pantograph

MIT Fluid Interfaces' Flying Pantograph

That's a really fancy way to say "a drone that draws."Screenshot by author, from Vimeo

With an unblinking eye, the machine studies the artist’s hand. As the human draws, the drone copies, algorithmic insight struggling to replicate lines on paper with whiteboard marker on a wall. Human hands are steady, and the quadcopter, wobbling in air, is not.

Perhaps it is better to think of the drawing drone, the work of the MIT Media Lab's Fluid Interfaces Group, as a clumsy cursor, the pen in the human's hand as a mouse, and the whole affair an awkward exercise in MS Paint. Or, to go back a few hundred years, the device is a pantograph: a machine that that copies a drawing as it's made, but larger.

The device's creators named the drawing drone a "Flying Pantograph", and describe it as such:

“Flying Pantograph” transposes human-scale drawing acts to a physically remote output canvas in different scales and aesthetics. A drone becomes an “expression agent” - modified to carry a pen and be controlled by human motions, then carries out the actual process of drawing on a vertical wall. Not merely a mechanical extension of 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.

The errors, it seems, are an intentional part of the art. Watch it in action below: