Fleet of drones spray-paint giant mural

Drone mural
(Image credit: Carlo Ratti Associati)

When you think of street art, chances are you imagine eye-catching images sprayed onto the side of a building. However, an Italian design agency has given the medium a technological twist by using a team of drones to spray-paint a giant mural in Turin.

We've seen plenty of stunning murals over the years, but none of the masterpieces on our list of inspirational street art has been created by a swarm of drones. And while this isn't the first ever piece of street art to be painted by drones, it's certainly one of the most impressive.

Curated by innovation and design firm Carlo Ratti Associati as part of the brilliantly named Urban Flying Opera (or, to use its acronym, UFO), this project relied on over 1,000 sketches contributed by artists from the local community.

These artists were asked to illustrate their hopes and ideas regarding what cities should look like, and their thoughts were whittled down to the 100 drawings that would eventually get spray-painted onto the mural by the flying graffiti machines.

Measuring in at 46 feet wide and 39 feet tall, the mural features drawings in three different colours that are layered one on top of the other.

The drones, which were supplied by Tsuru Robotics, were carefully controlled by multiple position monitoring systems to ensure that they didn't fly into one another and ruin the mural.

As for the sketches, these were uploaded to a central computer before being relayed as controls for the drones to follow. The result is a unique piece of street art that took 12 hours to complete.

"The city is an open canvas, where people can inscribe their stories in many ways,"  Carlo Ratti Associati founder, Professor Carlo Ratti, told New Atlas. "Such processes have always been happening; however, with UFO we tried to accelerate them, using drone technology to allow for a new use of painting as a means of expression."

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Dom Carter

Dom Carter is a freelance writer who specialises in art and design. Formerly a staff writer for Creative Bloq, his work has also appeared on Creative Boom and in the pages of ImagineFX, Computer Arts, 3D World, and .net. He has been a D&AD New Blood judge, and has a particular interest in picture books.