Russian scientists build drone swarms that ‘paint the sky’ using hand gestures

While we might not be able to control objects with our minds or use Jedi-style telekinesis just yet, technology has come extremely far in recent years.

Ten years ago, barely anyone had heard of drones, but now, Russian scientists have developed a new system that enables someone to control entire swarms of them at once just by moving their hands.

Researchers at Russia's Skolkovo Institute have developed 'Drone Paint', a way of painting images in the sky using lights attached to swarms of drones.

The drones can be manipulated and controlled in a complex formation by someone making different shapes and movements with their hands.

The system "allows the user to control the swarm behaviour without additional devices through human gestures and motions in real time, providing convenient tools to change the swarm's shape and formation," the researchers write.

They tested the system and said it is highly accurate, and could be used for anything from spray painting walls to interactive drone shows in the sky.

The authors of the research say that the DronePaint system could "have a big impact on movie shooting to achieve desirable lighting conditions with the swarm of spotlights controlled by an operator."

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"Additionally, it can be used in a new generation of a light show where each spectator will be able to control the drone display, e.g. navigate the plane, launch the rocket, or even draw the rainbow in the night sky."

A video released by the research team shows the drones being controlled with simple gestures such as giving the thumbs up to make the drones lift off, or erasing drawings using the classic heavy metal 'devil horns' gesture.

Drone swarms are rapidly increasing in popularity.

The most prominent recent example was at the opening ceremony of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, when swarms of drones created ornate moving patterns in the night sky above the stadium.

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