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Dot-Drawing With Drones

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A drone making a dot drawing.

McGill University researchers are developing tiny drones that can create drawings from a series of dots.

Credit: McGill University

Researchers at McGill University are developing tiny drones to create dot drawings, an artistic technique known as stippling.

The drones are equipped with a miniature arm, which holds a bit of ink-soaked sponge. As the drones hover near the canvas, internal sensors and a motion-capture system help position them to dab the ink in just the right places.

To date, the flying robots have created stippling portraits of Alan Turing, Grace Kelly, and Che Guevara, among others. Each drawing consists of a few hundred to a few thousand black dots of varying sizes.

McGill professor Paul Kry came up with the idea a few years ago as a way to do something about the blank hallways and stairwells in campus buildings. "I thought it would be great to have drones paint portraits of famous computer scientists on them," Kry says.

He speculates as the research continues, eventually larger drones could be deployed to paint murals on hard-to-reach outdoor surfaces, including curved or irregular faces.

From McGill Newsroom
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