We've seen efforts to combine drones and Lego before with the Flybrix kits, which set the plastic creations in flight, let owners crash them and rebuild again. But a new system developed by scientists at Queen's University takes a different, and arguably more impressive, approach, by turning the drones themselves into "Lego bricks" which arrange in a desired formation during flight.

The Queen's University scientists developed the system together with Lego's Creative Play Lab and are demonstrating it at the Lego World expo in Copenhagen this weekend. The system makes use of drones equipped with sensors and gyroscopes that sit inside cube-shaped frames. These correspond with actual Lego pieces arranged on a board (also made of Lego) that acts as the controller.

These pieces can be laid out how the child (or adult) wishes on the board, and then as the drones take flight, they autonomously arrange themselves in the desired formation. In this case, the controller is shaped as butterfly wings with a hinge in the middle, and as it is turned or the wings are made to flap, the drones respond almost instantly by shifting into position in the air.

There doesn't appear to be plans to bring this system to stores, it is more a way of exploring the interplay between drones and Lego, and how new technologies can add more fun to the mix. Lego's Creative Play Lab focuses on the future of playtime, and the way the Queen's University sees it, this kind of technology could usher in interactive new forms of not just enjoyment, but education, especially when it comes to physics.

"As an example, imagine us interactively reconstructing the movement of planets around our sun or distant stars in the Milky Way galaxy," says Dr. Roel Vertegaal, head of the Human Media Lab at Queen's University. "With this technology, we are able to simulate the physics of the natural world like gravity, planetary orbits, and more, giving children a chance to see what they have long learned from textbooks and two-dimensional depictions, in a real physical environment."

See the drones go to work in the video below.

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