Drone Doesn’t Know Much About Art, But Knows What It Likes

There is an artistic technique known as stippling where an artist creates a picture using small dots of ink or paint. The result is almost like using a dot matrix printer at low resolution. [Paul Kry] at McGill University doesn’t directly teach art, but he did teach drones to produce pictures using the stippling technique.

As you can see in the video below, the drones carry an ink-soaked sponge. Internal sensors and a motion capture system get them to the right spot and then they move to put the ink down on the work surface. It isn’t perfect, but it does make recognizable drawings and presumably a little inconsistency makes it even more artsy.

One problem with the drones has been the short battery life. Initial attempts required the drone to land for a pit stop to get fresh batteries and ink. However, later versions use a tether and an inkwell so that the drone can work autonomously.

Practical uses of drones are on the rise. We’ve seen how they will change farming. They can even dispense junk food (albeit, laced with medicine) to endangered ferrets.

18 thoughts on “Drone Doesn’t Know Much About Art, But Knows What It Likes

  1. You can do this as a DIY hack with a much simpler setup because the drone can just target a laser pointer dot that is aimed by two servos that move to the next dot after the drone registers an impact from it’s brush with the surface. The drone’s targeting system could potentially be as simple as the sensor from an optical mouse. You can give the drone a frame of reference by multiplexing reference dots with the target dot and have a modulation scheme to tag each. Anyway you get the idea, and if you don’t ask nicely and I will explain further. :-)

    1. But then you’d need to set up a laser, taking away a lot of flexibility. Yes a laser can be used at some distance, so it’s good for places you can just not reach, but you still don’t have the independence of a drone.

      Still, it would at least likely get a more recognizable picture so the idea is OK. Although I’m not sure how well it would work in practice, apart from the locating the drone also wobbles due to the nature of air movement.

      1. Do you have a clue as to what it takes to set up the original idea? The documentation is lacking but the videos do give so good hints. Their method isn’t easier at all and it is not cheaper.

        Does my idea work, sure they use it to kill people all the time, ever heard of a laser guided bomb or missile? LOL. My idea, to use this targeting method for making art, is easier to set up! the laser can be at extreme angles and/or ranges and still illuminate the dot location accurately, try doing that with camera based motion detection as shown in the videos. The dot is not moved by the wind so if the drone is always aiming at it any perturbations within the range it can physically counter are automatically adjusted for. See how the problem is inverted, we don’t need to obsess over where the drone is anymore.

    2. Could be even simpler. Place a dot on the canvas (center) and then add a mouse-type camera (or webcam with recognition software). Place second dot relative to the position of the first dot. Then place third dot relative of the first two, etc. Calculate what dots the camera should see when it is in the right place, and then maneuver to that position and place a dot.

      1. Hahaha, 3 minutes ehh? :P

        This is really interesting to me.
        I got tired of doing flips with mini-quads a long time ago, it is nice to see something relatively new done with them.

        Full color (colour) in the future?…

      2. Alan Turing, Grace Kelly, and Che Guevara,
        It’s sort of amusing to think of a drone in some university painting Che Guevara in 2016, it’s so out of this time.
        I wonder if a US university professor would get in trouble for using Che Guevara,as a model. I guess it depends on the university but in the current climate I bet there are a few. Assuming anybody remembers who it is of course.

          1. He was indeed a controversial figure, but also one targeted by the CIA and state department so it might not be easy to get 100% reliable info on the guy. But from what I understand even the other revolutionaries thought he was uhm.. ‘a bit of a handful’.

          2. So you don’t know about the murders? No surprise there, anyway think what you wish, but remember it determines what doors are open to you. BTW half my extended family are from Central America and half of them are “natives” so I know what people on the ground experienced rather than what is in history books written by left leaning American academics looking for a Jesus substitute.

      1. I was pondering more some sort of bio fuel cell using nectar… the pollination aspect did cross my mind, but I think the best way to cure that problem is to save bees, not replace them.

        However, I could see this tech as a pollinator being necessary to development of space or planetary habitats where food is grown, requiring pollination.

        Anyway, classic manual pollination method is a small paintbrush, which would seem like an easy substitution.

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