Over the last eighteen months, there has been a lot of talk about drones. There have been discussions on what they should be used for, what they should never be used for, and how they might change the face of delivery systems worldwide, from the military to ecommerce platforms. You probably haven’t heard the word ‘quadcopter’ mentioned quite as often, even though quadcopters are currently the most popular type of personal drone.
What is a Quadcopter?
The quadcopter is a multi-rotor miniature copter with four distinct arms. These arms all contain a motor and a small, but powerful, propeller at each end. In essence, a quadcopter is very much like a miniature helicopter, with the main difference being that quadcopters lift and thrust from four propellers and not two. Also, on a quadcopter, two of the propellers turn in one direction and two turn in the other – this allows the device to be maintained in ‘hover’ mode.
It is this innovative design which has the quadcopter so perfect for aerial photography. With just a quick search on YouTube, it is possible to find hundreds of remarkable clips which were shot using a camera attached to a quadcopter. In fact, we are all slowly getting used to this now – every week, there is another batch of videos of some deft quadcopter controller flying over an abandoned building or through tall trees.
You’ve probably seen somebody flying them around before, and they are widely available for personal use, though some of them are more like toys then professional drones. In order to find the best drone you should read reviews and advice on line before making a buying decision, quadcoptercloud.com is a good resource.
What are Quadcopters Used for?
However, there is another exciting quadcopter hobby emerging right now and it is the quadcopter light show. The ability to make this kind of craft hover in the air has encouraged creative types to experiment with attaching lights and mirrors to the propellers. In a wonderful example of technology meeting art, these lit up quadcopters can be controlled in such a way as to make colorful and vibrant images in the sky.
The more individual quadcopters used, the more lights there are to play with, and there are some truly amazing light shows being conceived and created right now. One of the most awe inspiring has to be the Meet Your Creator performance, held at the Cannes film festival. Its creators, Jonathan Santana and Xander Smith, designed and orchestrated an amazing light show using a fleet of sixteen quadcopters, each decked out with mirrors.
Check out the video below:
How Do You Carry Out a Quadcopter Light Show?
It was no mean feat to pull the performance off either, because synchronising sixteen quadcopters (never mind sixteen quadcopters with mirrors on their arms) is not an easy task. In fact, it could only be done with the help of an extremely powerful and responsive piece of software called Vicon Tracker. This software was able to monitor and react to the movements of all sixteen quadcopters in a fraction of a second.
The Meet Your Creator team used Vicon Tracker and the openFrameworks toolkit to put together a mesmerising quadcopter light show, which captured the imaginations of those in attendance. One of the best things about this emerging skill is that you do not have to possess a great knowledge of drones, quadcopters, or any other flying machine to realise just how technically brilliant a light show of this kind is – there is no denying its technological majesty.
What Does the Future Look Like for Quadcopters?
While the future of drone based technology is not yet clear, in terms of commercial or personal use, it is a comforting thought to realise that human beings can make art out of pretty much anything. We are now so used to thinking about technology as a cold and lifeless thing that we often forget that there is more to invention than utility.
The quadcopter light show is a pretty cool way reminder that contemporary developments like 3D printing and drone technology, which hold great potential for society, are not for the exclusive use of commercial markets. While products and inventions can be bought or sold, true innovation is something which cannot be purchased.
Can I Learn How to Fly a Quadcopter?
It makes death defying aerial flights through canyons from quadcopters with Go Pro cameras on their arms. It makes incredible light shows out of ordinary drones with mirrors attached to their propellers. It is shaping our future and the history of these flipping, flying, and flashing little gadgets. Who knows what we might be using them for in five years?
The best thing is that there is nothing standing in the way of you and your own quadcopter light shows and experiments. Once you have gotten acquainted with flying one of these aerial beasts, the sky really is the limit. You can attach LED lights to the arms and create your very own miniature light show – just makes sure that you don’t get your quadcopter stuck in the neighbour’s hedge.