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Drones, 3D Printing, and Burning Man

posted Jan 30, 2013, 10:08 PM by Ellen Pearlman

Drones, 3D Printing, and Burning Man

Code named Project Blue Sky, a bunch of Burners at this year’s Burning Man Festival are getting downright feisty putting a new spin on GPS surveillance with the help of the non-profit Reallocate, a social installation sponsor. 

Reallocate mockup image of Burning Man Kinect photo booth dome

First, participants will go into the dome to get themselves scanned by a Kinect on a volunteer basis. Their image will be printed out on a Cubify Cube 3D Printer, sort of like the Makerbot printout of Steven Colbert I wrote about some blog posts ago.  They can then walk out of the dome with a free GPS tracker or transponder that monitors their location at the Playa.

When the statues are done, then the dome staff will put them in containers held aloft by little flying drones also referred to as UAV or Unmanned Arial Vehicles. The drones will hone in on each person’s pre-set GPS to track them down for delivery. When the drone is right by them the GPS tracker will start buzzing, although you would think having a drone hovering that you are on the look out for would be enough. Then the drone will release the container containing the 3D printed portrait, hopefully not drop it in the wrong place or on someone’s head, and fly away. The recipient will go back to the Reallocate dome and return the GPS tracker. All Reallocate wants is for participants to sign a waiver for a documentary and return the GPS.

Another mock up rendering of the Reallocate dome using recycled cargo containers

Two lovely twentysomething fab girls from Reallocate discuss the uniqueness of the project with awesome emphasis on donations from like minded individuals. They make it appear fresh, cool and intriguing. No one is talking about the severely dark side of all of this. 

Reallocate discusses the humanitarian aid aspect of this, such as dropping off relief containers after a natural disaster. Of course that would assume the people in the disaster zone have access to GPS trackers - which at this point many do. Its called their cell phones.