The Awe-Inspiring Potential of Consumer Drones

A few weeks ago, AlwaysCurrent published a story about an open platform drone created by 3D Robotics. The article was full of interest, excitement, and child-like wonder at our rapidly-changing world and new possibilities for humankind. Consumer-level, freely-modifiable drone technology? How vast the sea of opportunity, we thought; our expectations for the creativity and ingenuity of our race were foolishly high.

Fortunately, one man stood ready to disappoint such naive positivity and bring us all back to reality. Just in time for finals week, too!

On Wednesday, a prolific graffiti “artist”* and vandal, called KATSU, tagged an enormous billboard high over the streets of New York using a DJI Phantom drone he modified for this purpose. While some scant lines of red paint might not seem impressive at first, watching the video kind of changes that. The apparent ease of the action is almost unsettling, but really, this project has been in the works for quite awhile now.

Screenshot from Youtube

Screenshot from Youtube

KATSU is a well-known vandal, but possesses a range of other skills as well, including hacking and drone-modifying, apparently. He has been working with DJI’s Phantom 2, it seems, figuring out how he can incorporate drone technology into his super-cool acts of vandalism; in fact, he debuted a prototype of his modified Phantom along with a series of drone-painted images a little over a year ago.

In an interview with Motherboard in 2014 regarding that exhibition, KATSU expressed much of the same interest we did in drone technology and its potential to change the way humans interact with the world: “…really I think deep down it’s really magical what drones represent and what they can actually accomplish and do for human beings.”

Well, so did we, KATSU; so did we…. Regarding his most recent escapade, KATSU said: “It’s exciting to see its [the drone’s] first potential use as a device for vandalism.” Please excuse us while we roll our eyes.


*Side-note: this AC writer has nothing against real artists. Just pretentious jerks who violate public or private property for the sake of “art.”

Author: Tim Larsen

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