Although it’s getting increasingly common to see swarms of illuminated drones being used for aerial light shows, simultaneously charging and launching all of those aircraft can still be tricky. That’s where the Flying Drone Blanket is intended to come in
The “blanket” is being developed by Italian design firm Carlo Ratti Associati (CRA) in collaboration with drone tech firm Flyfire, the latter of which began life as a project spearheaded by the CRA-affiliated MIT SENSEable City Lab.
Each blanket will take the form of a sheet that is folded up and carried in a case, then pulled out, unfolded and laid flat on the ground. Up to 16 system-specific quadcopter drones can subsequently be mounted in the blanket’s square receptacles, all of the copters simultaneously charging their batteries from a linked power source.
Multiple blankets can in turn be linked together, potentially allowing up to 10,000 drones to all be charged and launched at once. Each aircraft disengages from its receptacle by executing a 45-degree twist as it takes off. A twist in the opposite direction re-engages it when it lands for recharging.
The drones themselves feature a sleek design that incorporates an “ultra-bright” multi-color LED panel on the underside. Their movements are coordinated utilizing the existing Drone Show Software system. That being said, the Flying Drone Blanket could be used for more than just light shows.
“With this project, we imagine a near future where drone swarms can be used for multiple purposes – from light shows to mapping buildings with 3D scanning to sensing air and water quality – in a scenario that we might describe as an ‘Internet of Flying Objects,'” says CRA founder Carlo Ratti.