Paint by drone

An innovation which may have application for landscape architects in the future is gaining traction in Europe and America.

Italian design firm Carlo Ratti Associati has developed a system called Paint By Drone, which, as its name suggests, involves drawing on urban facades using drones carrying spray paint tanks.

The drones draw content submitted digitally, via an app.

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“Paint by Drones offers a new way to engage citizens with the built environment,” says the company’s founder, Professor Carlo Ratti.

“Our cities are filled with blank vertical surfaces, either permanent or temporary.  Scaffold sheeting, for instance, has great potential, but in fact it is mostly used in bland ways - left empty or employed for advertising.

“With Paint by Drone we would like to unleash the potential of phygital graffiti. Phygital graffiti is the idea of leveraging drones, and more generally, digital technologies to create participatory works of public art.”

He says painting drones could enable civic artwork in hard-to-reach places, or large-scale collaborative graffiti projects. An artist can do an initial drawing on a canvas, then using a mobile app, drones can be used to fill it on on the side of a building.

There’s also potential for passers-by to draw their own designs for the drones to recreate.

 Carlo Ratti has developed a drone system to safely make multi storey graffiti artworks.

Carlo Ratti has developed a drone system to safely make multi storey graffiti artworks.

“Imagine how this could make the realisation of works of public art both easier and safer, in urban contexts as well as the infrastructure level,” Ratti says. “For example alongside highways, within railway galleries, on bridges and viaducts.”

Others have experimented with drone graffiti, including New York graffiti artist Katsu, who launched a spray paint quadcopter.