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MIT researchers invented a drone that can exactly copy your own drawings, writing, and doodles

Flying Drone

Over the past few months, we’ve seen drones do all sorts of crazy and impressive things. Whether it’s a drone that can livestream video or a drone connected to a flamethrower, it seems that not a month goes by without some wild new video highlighting some makeshift drone invention.

But what we haven’t really seen yet is a drone that can draw. Sure, it may sound a bit ludicrous, but the enterprising folks from MIT’s Media Media Lab’s Fluid Interfaces Group have come up with something wholly original and impressively creative: A flying pantograph, aka a flying drawing machine.

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As you can see in the video below, MIT students affixed a camera to a drone capable of capturing, in real time, the pen strokes of a user. That information is then used by the drone itself to effectively copy everything the user is drawing.

One of the more interesting use cases that this type of technology would allow would be drawing at a scale that wouldn’t be possible with just one person.

As the research group’s paper explains:

Since pre-historic time, humankind has been involved in drawing through a myriad forms of mediums that, over many years, have evolved to be increasingly computation-driven. However, they largely continue to remain constrained to human body scale and aesthetics, while computer technology now allows a more synergistic and collaborative expression between human and machine. In our installation, we engage audience with a drone-based drawing system that applies a person’s pen drawing at different scales in different styles. The unrestricted and programmable motion of the proxy can institute various artistic distortions in real-time, creating a new dynamic medium of creative expression.

A Flying Pantograph from Fluid Interfaces on Vimeo.


Yoni Heisler has been writing about Apple and the tech industry at large for over 15 years. A life long Mac user and Apple expert, his writing has appeared in Edible Apple, Network World, MacLife, Macworld UK, and TUAW. When not analyzing the latest happenings with Apple, Yoni enjoys catching Improv shows in Chicago, playing soccer, and cultivating new TV show addictions.