Quadcopters take to London skies for Star Trek aerial display

Written by: Laura Hopperton | Published:

A 30-strong fleet of aerial drones took to the skies of London last weekend as part of a combined publicity stunt for the forthcoming Star Trek: Into Darkness film and the Earth Hour awareness campaign.

Staged by media arts company Ars Electronica Futurelab and Munich based UAV manufacturer Ascending Technologies, the flying squadron of 30 LED studded Asctec Hummingbird quadcopters lingered 300ft above Potters Fields Park near London's Tower Bridge, forming a three dimensional Star Trek logo.

The stunt, which can be viewed in the video below, marked the end of Earth Hour on 23 March, a global event organised by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) to encourage households and businesses to turn off non-essential lights for one hour at 8:30pm.

The 100g, four-rotor quadcopters used in the display were equipped with specially developed GPS modules so that they could be steered 'with the utmost precision'.

In order to allow for simultaneous control of multiple quadcopters, Ascending Technologies completely reconfigured the communication both among the quadcopters and the ground control station.

A 2.4GHz transmission channel was set up which allowed the computations to be communicated to the flight control software to pilot the swarm's aerial manoeuvres.

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