Drawing Drone: Flying Pantograph Reimagines Modern Graffiti

drone Flying Pantograph Drawing MIT
The Flying Pantograph transposes human drawing onto a remote surface. Fluid Interfaces/ MIT

A new way to doodle has been developed by students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), who created a smart drone capable of mimicking sketches remotely.

The Flying Pantograph's creators describe it as an "expression agent" that transposes human-scale drawings onto a remote surface.

Harshit Agrawal and Sang-won Leigh, students working in MIT's Fluid Interfaces Group, created the Flying Pantograph after being inspired by a device created in 1603 used by engineers and artists. The pantograph was used to make replicas of sketches or drawings using a standard pen or pencil.

The drone has been modified to carry a pen, allowing it to copy the actions of a human hand and scale it up through a combination of mechanical and algorithmic methods.

Currently, the Flying Pantograph has only been demonstrated in a single room. However, Agrawal and Leigh say it could be operated from the other side of the planet. This could open up the possibility for a new form of guerilla street art, allowing artists to collaborate from all over the world.

"Not only mechanically extending a human artist, the drone plays a crucial part of the expression as its own motion dynamics and software intelligence add new visual language to the art," the students stated.

"This agency forms a strong link between a human artist and the canvas. However, at the same time, there is a deliberate programmatic disconnect that offers space for exploiting machine aesthetics as a core expression medium."