While developers of drone technology (and tech in general) seem to be focused on automation and smart functions these days, two students at MIT have developed a tethered drone that happens to be something of an artist. The machine uses a marker and motion tracking technology to follow the motion of the user's hands, drawing on a vertical surface whatever you draw on a horizontal one with a stylus.

According to FastCoDesign, Sang-won Leigh and Harshit Agrawal developed the "Flying Pantograph" as a part of MIT's Fluid Interfaces Group, a research collective that focuses on streamlining human-computer interactions. The drone is inspired by tools from the 17th century that were used to copy and resize a drawing onto another piece of paper. Leigh and Agrawal refer to it as an "expression agent" for the human controller. "Not only mechanically extending a human artist," they wrote in the Fluid Interfaces Group blog post, "the drone plays a crucial part of the expression as its own motion dynamics and software intelligence add new visual language to the art." As demonstrated in the video (above), moving the stylus quickly means that the drone's mimicry is interrupted as it tries to keep up, which in turn alters the image.

Future updates to the design could equal longer distances between the user and the drone, with or without a tether. FastCoDesign suggests that the tech could even be used for collaborative murals or to give those with certain disabilities the means to write on tall vertical surfaces. Check out the video above to see the drone in action, and head to the MIT Fluid Interfaces Group website to read more about the project.

Banner image via Vimeo

[h/t Nerdist / FastCoDesign]