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Project Daedalus: Civic Drone Centre Launch

Mon 02 Mar 2015

by Anna Frew

Project Daedalus is an exciting research and development project looking at how we can harness emerging drone technology in the arts. The project is an exploration of drone arts through a partnership between Marshmallow Laser Feast, researchers from The University of Salford and Abandon Normal Devices. We are researching areas like how to get your drone to talk to a virtual reality headset and fly in a swarm through to legal ways to fly.

The Project Daedalus team have been along to the opening of the Civic Drone Centre at UCLAN to take part in a lab with all sorts of other drone pilots, makers and producers. The new Civic Drone Centre aims to focus on ‘Drones for Good.’ With guest speakers with experience of filming political rallies in Kenya, to counting penguins in the Antarctic there were plenty of inspirational people to meet.

The filmmaker of political rallies in Kenya, Dickens Olewe, is the founder of the African SkyCAM project. He explained how he first came to use drones as a way of documenting a flood. Using aerial photography allowed a sense of scale not possible from the side of a river. He has also used drones to spot poachers’ campfires on national parks, as well as to document the scale of a rubbish tip (video above).

In a much colder part of the world, staff from the British Antarctic Survey told us about how they use drones to get up close to penguins. Here, drones can get closer, and be less obtrusive than people can. As fuel can cost as much as single malt whisky in Antarctica, drones also do jobs like way finding for ships trying to make there way to base camp.

Looking towards the future, we were shown drones that are inspired by natural forms. A giant dog drone that when kicked over can pick itself up. Another was a salmon that was being used to study other salmon. Also described was a Nano drone being developed inspired by the sycamore seed, that is being 3D printed.

The Project Daedalus team introduced themselves at the lab and went on to pitch a project. This pitch was about creating a drone race for wheelchair users, where the pilots use VR headsets to navigate. We’ll have to wait and see if the pitch goes on to get funding from the Civic Drone Centre. But in the meantime if you’re thirsting to find out more about drones in the arts sign up to get updates on the Project Daedalus webpage here.