A couple of years ago, architecture and design firm Carlo Ratti Associati (CRA) unveiled Paint By Drone, a system that utilizes quadcopters to spray-paint artistic graffiti onto outdoor walls. Well, the tech has now been used to create a crowdsourced work of art, applied to a wall by multiple drones simultaneously.

As part of the Italian UFO-Urban Flying Opera project, people were initially asked to submit "their thoughts, hopes and ideas regarding what cities should look like." Out of over 1,000 submissions, approximately 100 were selected by CRA, the University of Turin and the Polytechnic University of Turin. These were combined to form one complete painting.

That painting was applied to the wall of a disused automobile manufacturing plant in the city of Turin's Aurelio Peccei park, by four drones working at the same time over two days (June 25th and 26th). A central control system instructed each paint-tank-wielding quadcopter as to what it should be doing, with a visual monitoring system keeping tabs on where the various aircraft were in relation to one another at all times.

Measuring 14 by 12 meters (46 by 39 feet), the finished painting is made up of three separately-applied differently-colored layers. These consist of a black layer that sets the story, a red layer that represents Turin's communities and public spaces, and a blueish-green layer that "visually wraps the storytelling." It's the product of what is claimed to be the first time a swarm of drones has been used to create a collaborative work of art on a vertical surface.

"The city is an open canvas, where people can inscribe their stories in many ways," says CRA founder, Prof. Carlo Ratti. "Such processes have always been happening; however, with UFO we tried to accelerate them, using drone technology to allow for a new use of painting as a means of expression."

The project was funded by cultural development foundation Compagnia di San Paolo, ideated and curated by CRA, and produced by tech research center Fondazione LINKS in collaboration with Tsuru Robotics.

You can see the drones in action, in the following video.

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