Drone will dou­ble as fly­ing bill­board

Solihull News - - IT TALK -

GIVEN the suc­cess of aero­planes trail­ing ad­ver­tis­ing ban­ners, it was per­haps in­evitable that some­one would invent a drone that could dou­ble as a fly­ing bill­board.

The Ja­panese tele­coms gi­ant NTT Do­como has done just that by en­cap­su­lat­ing a tra­di­tional quad­copter drone in­side a spher­i­cal frame.

This ex­ter­nal struc­ture in­cludes eight equidis­tant nar­row curved LED strips which light up as it spins and drone in­side flies.

Each strip con­tains 144 lights in a sin­gle row, so the ef­fect, as they turn quickly and flash in dif­fer­ent colours, is equiv­a­lent to a 144 x 136 pixel spher­i­cal screen.

The dis­play can be used to project lo­gos, in­for­ma­tion or ad­ver­tis­ing as the drone flies around.

Be­cause of the sym­me­try and light­ness of the ex­ter­nal frame and the ex­tent to which air­flow to the quad­copter blades is sus­tained be­tween the struts, it re­mains very sta­ble in flight al­low­ing an ex­pe­ri­enced pi­lot to fly it with con­sid­er­able pre­ci­sion.

It is not yet avail­able com­mer­cially, how­ever.

No doubt the aim is to de­velop the ap­proach fur­ther in or­der to raise the pro­jec­tion qual­ity, which cur­rently looks rather crude with the low pixel count.

You can see this for your­self by key­ing ‘ Do­como sphere’ into YouTube.

You can watch it wan­der around an al­most empty sports hall, pre­tend­ing to be a fly­ing globe.

But, what a shame, it will be a few years be­fore we are greeted by one of these spin­ners ad­ver­tis­ing the latest bar­gains as we ar­rive at busy re­tail spa­ces.

We must wait to be buzzed by a pass­ing sphere telling us where we are, as we sit pa­tiently in con­cert halls wait­ing for the ac­tion to start.

BY DAVE PINWELL

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