When Sergei Lupashin saw how an aerial photograph of massive protests around the 2011 Russian federal elections changed the media silence around the subject, the aerial robotics engineer realized the truth-telling value of the bird’s-eye view. Yet aerial photographs, even those taken by unmanned aerial vehicles, are tricky to produce: it’s difficult to pilot a UAV safely, and government regulations restrict their use.
Lupashin gets around both obstacles with his new invention, the Fotokite – a lightweight, camera-equipped quadricopter controlled with a tether (for the purposes of this demo, a dog leash). He turns one on, points it in a direction, and it flies out, hovering at a consistent angle. Then he launches a second, and a third. While the Fotokite would have a huge impact on journalism, it should also prove useful for archeologists, architects, wildlife biologists, emergency responders and more. The possibilities are endless. If you had one, Lupashin asks, what would you do with it?