Spray-Painting Graffiti Drone Not Nearly As Effective As You’d Think

Robots may be taking our jobs throughout agriculture and industry, but the the duty of defacing architecture is likely to remain in the hands of humans for the immediate future if this semi-autonomous spray-paint drone is any evidence.

Devised by muralist/hacker/mad genius KATSU, this R/C quadcopter replaces the conventional E-O sensor gimbal with a custom rig designed to hold and fire a can of spray paint while aloft.

While the artist has demonstrated the drone’s capabilities on large pieces of canvas as part of the Silicon Valley Contemporary art show, he is confident the system could be used to reach otherwise inaccessible sections 0f walls or fences. However, it currently is too unwieldy for anything other than abstract artistic expression. As he told Motherboard:

To a large degree, it’s up to the drone. It’s like, I’m telling this device to basically accommodate this new attached payload that has an unusual shape, which then changes the drone’s shape. The drone is suddenly trying to adjust in real-time to the decreasing weight of the paint as the can empties. The flight patterns, the gestures, are my control.
But it’s really strange — it’s weird, bizarre: it’s like 50 per cent me having control and 50 per cent the drone kind of like saying, ‘no I need to go this way’ or ‘I need to bounce out this way’ or ‘I need to turn this way to accomplish what you want me to do but still maintain myself so I don’t just fly into the wall and explode.’ Which it does, all the time; well, it’s doing it less and less now that I’m getting a better relationship with it.
So the gestures that are being created — the lines, the strokes, the patterns — they’re really unusual. They’re really exciting to come back to and reflect on over and over and over, because you pick up all these little details and nuances. You begin to understand that this really can only be accomplished through this bizarre dance between me controlling the drone and the drone doing its own thing. I’m not putting in a preprogrammed flight pattern. That is a 2.0 or a 3.0 desire that I have for the project. But right now it really is kind of this 50/50 relationship.

To that end, KATSU is working on adding a fully-autonomous flight ability and making the code open-source so that anyone in the world will be able to create one. You can see the works in person at the San Jose McEnery Convention Center in San Jose, CA through this weekend. [Motherboard via Laughing Squid]