MIT plans one helicopter per pixel display

MIT is to create a 3D display using a swarm of fist-sized helicopters.

The project is called Flyfire.

“It’s like when Winnie the Pooh hits a beehive: a swarm of bees comes out and chases him while changing its configuration to resemble a beast,” said Roon Kang, a research fellow at MIT’s SENSEable City Lab who is leading the project. “In Flyfire, each bee is essentially a pixel that emits coloured light and reconfigures itself into different forms.”

Self-stabilising and control technology is being developed by MIT’s Aerospace Robotics and Embedded Systems (ARES) Lab.

“Today we are able to simultaneously control a handful of micro helicopters, but with Flyfire we are aiming to scale up and reach very large numbers,” said ARES Lab head Emilio Frazzoli.

Flyfire is conceived as a public space installation, in which the pixels recharge every few minutes and then perform in space. “In general, there are two ways to increase the resolution of a display,” said SENSEable City Lab director Carlo Ratti. “One is to use smaller pixels. The other one is to look at it from farther away. Flyfire adopts the second approach to create a unique visual experience in large public spaces.”

Tags: MIT

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