Drone will double as flying billboard
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.