Drone 100

Photo: Intel

The Ars Electronica Futurelab launched its Spaxels (space pixels) R&D program in 2012 and has been enhancing and upgrading the technology ever since.

Spaxels are drones (quadcopters) equipped with a programmable LED system and a GPS-based autopilot. Designed for formation flying, they render dynamic, three-dimensional figures in the night sky. To precisely choreograph the transformations aloft, the Futurelab developed swarm control software and a ground control unit, and performed proprietary modifications on the drone’s own software.

In November 2015, the Ars Electronica Futurelab teamed up with Intel for an aviation feat that set a world record in the category “Most Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) airborne simultaneously.” On that brilliantly illuminated evening, 100 Spaxels formed an Intel logo 250 meters in diameter.