Following the success of write&erase robot Scribit, CRA unveils the world's first crowdsourced graffiti, designed by thousands of people and painted by a swarm of drones in the city of Torino, Italy. The UFO-Urban Flying Opera project is promoted by Compagnia di San Paolo, ideated and curated by CRA, and coordinated and produced by Fondazione LINKS, in collaboration with Tsuru Robotics.
Following the success of write&erase robot Scribit, international design and innovation office CRA-Carlo Ratti Associati unveils the world's first crowdsourced graffiti, designed by thousands of people and painted by a swarm of drones in the city of Torino, Italy. The large-scale painting (14x12-meter, or 46x39-foot) was developed as part of UFO-Urban Flying Opera, a participatory technology and art project promoted by Compagnia di San Paolo, ideated and curated by CRA, and coordinated and produced by Fondazione LINKS, in collaboration with Tsuru Robotics.
The final vertical graffiti was created by four UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) flying simultaneously over two consecutive days. Each drone carried a tank of sustainable spray paint and sketched the individual designs on the canvas. The final painting was divided in three layers: a gray one to set the story, a magenta one to represent Torino's communities and public spaces, and a light blue one to visually wrap the storytelling.
The experiment in Torino's Aurelio Peccei park, on the outskirts of the city, represented the first time a swarm of drones was employed to create a collaborative piece of art on a vertical surface. A central management system controlled the UAVs' behavior in real time, and a monitoring system tracked their precise location, allowing for movement coordination across the entire formation. The drone performance took place on June 25th and 26th, 2019, in a cathedral-like industrial structure that used to belong to Italian car manufacturer Iveco. The event was part of Italian Tech Week.
“The city is an open canvas, where people can inscribe their stories in many ways,” says professor Carlo Ratti, founder of CRA practice and director of the Senseable City Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT): “Such processes have always been happening; however, with UFO we tried to accelerate them, imagining expressing oneself through painting in a new way, thanks to drone technology.”
The initiative is the latest development in CRA’s research on vertical drawing and participatory design. Last year, CRA spun off Scribit, a startup that manufactures a little robot that can translate web content data into images and text by drawing, erasing and re-drawing them on vertical surfaces. The crowdfunding campaign that was launched to raise money for Scribit became one of the top 150 highest-grossing campaigns of all time. UFO continues that research, ushering in a new way to represent visual content in the city.
Design: CRA - Carlo Ratti Associati
Location: Torino, Italy
CRA Team: Carlo Ratti, Antonio Atripaldi, Luca Giacolini, Chiara Morandini, Chiara Borghi, Andrea Galli, Alessandro Tassinari. CRA Make: Emanuele Rossetti, Alessandro Peretti Griva, Luca Cianfriglia. Scribit: Andrea Baldereschi, Federico Morando, Mahsa Borzoo
Photography: Andrea Guermani
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