Last edited 05 Sep 2021

Paint by drone


Paint by Drone is a new portable technological solution developed by the international design and innovation office Carlo Ratti Associati.

The concept for the system is that drone formations are employed to 'draw' on urban facades, able to turn any blank vertical surface into a space for artistic expression or for the visualisation of urban data.

The first two installations of Paint by Drone are planned for Autumn 2017 in Berlin and Turin. In both cities, large-scale collaborative graffiti projects will be created, using the facades of construction sites as giant canvases.


Paint by Drone employs a set of 1 m-wide unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), each of them equipped with sensors and carrying a spray paint tank. Each drone paints with CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Key) as in most traditional printing processes.

A central management system regulates the dronesoperations in real-time, from image painting to flight, using an advanced monitoring system that precisely tracks the UAV’s positions. A protective net placed on the scaffolding’s’ cover allows the drones to move in a 'safe' space.

Drones can draw content submitted digitally via an app. The artistic input can come from either crowdsourced platforms or from a curator orchestrating the contributions of several people.


Professor Carlo Ratti, founder of Carlo Ratti Associati studio and Director of the Senseable City Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), said:

“Our cities are filled with blank vertical surfaces, either permanent or temporary. Scaffold sheeting, for instance, has great potential, but in fact it is mostly used in bland ways – left empty or employed for advertising.

“With Paint by Drone we would like to unleash the potential of ‘phygital graffiti’. Any façade can become a space where to showcase, new forms of open-source, collaborative art or to visualise the heartbeat of a metropolis through real time data.”


Content and images courtesy of Carlo Ratti Associati.

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