Concept could see LEDs illuminating the sky

Concept could see LEDs illuminating the skyTechnology experts working at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have come up with a brand new LED-based display solution which will allow for the creation of enormous three dimensional images in the night sky.

The appropriately named Project FlyFire will employ miniature helicopter drones, each with an LED lighting solution installed. Each drone will be programmed to interact with its peers based on their relative locations and with this information they will be able to hover and create hanging screens or seemingly weightless sculptures from points of LED light.

Each tiny drone will represent a single pixel on a large scale display that could be made up of thousands of the devices. According to its developers, the display will be able to be controlled in real time, with complex choreography carried out seamlessly.

Project FlyFire is being jointly conducted by academics and researchers from the Aerospace Robotics and Embedded Systems Laboratory and the SENSEable City Lab, both of which are linked to MIT. Advances in LED systems and the batteries that power the wirelessly controlled drones allow the individual micro-copters to stay airborne and active for extended periods, making long performances possible.

MIT researcher E Roon Kang equated the LED drone technology to a swarm of bees, with a form of swarm mentality and awareness of other individual components. The LED displays formed from the drones will be visible from every angle, not just from the front, whether they are used to create two or three dimensional images.

MIT is believed to be working with military organisations in order to create several automated helicopter-based technologies that could perform previously impossible manoeuvres. It is also working on "smart dust", which will utilise wirelessly controlled minuscule devices, effectively a smaller scale variant of the FlyFire drones used in the current LED display project.

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