Flone

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Case Study: Flone

By: 'Lot Amorós, Cristina Navarro and Alexandre Oliver’
ongoing work as aeracoop

Airspace is Public Space, we have the Right to Fly

Image of Flone prototype. Credit: Consuelo Bautista


BBC Video showing how to build your own Flone.

Description of Work

This artwork is positioned as

A platform that allows smartphones to fly: And not just smartphones. Flone is a platform for the empowerment of air space.

Flone is an innovative drone designed to carry a smartphone or similarly sized object (such as a small camera). Flone is a project born from activism and an ongoing interest in community and the development of open source projects that can be made by anyone.

Flone is a self-built, low-cost biodegradable drone, conceived as an open source digital design. The choice of design elements (shape, size, material, lack of screws) make it hugely accessible and adaptable for many people.

The use of open software and documentation, combined with how easy it is to assemble, has a profound democratising effect on the creation of a viable airbourn system. The project team aims to allow their userbase to claim air space as a common domain.

With the production of such a platform, the Flone project aims to open up the range of applications of air social robotics. It is a multimedia drone, a mobile multipurpose machine, which can move through the public air space thanks to various smartphone sensors (camera, microphone, GPS, accelerometers, gyroscopes) and actuators (LED flash and speaker) together with wireless connections (Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and 4G).

The members of this project have imparted workshops in countless schools, art centres and universities in several countries. Dozens of individuals have replicated this project worldwide and made a Flone for themselves.

Flone has been used to:

  • Map trees at risk of logging.
  • Document art murals.
  • Defend activists.
  • Educate about the air space.
  • Spread messages massively.
  • Generate maps for communities in social exclusion.

Artist Statement

Key points that Flone seeks to address are:

Free Libre Open Source: We have the social mission to build a free and independent airspace. Free software is essential to guarantee its neutrality, just as it happens on the Internet, airspace should not depend on the domain of any corporation or proprietary technology.

Digital Fabrication We use laser cutting because it opens up creative possibilities and opportunities for local development and global distribution. It allows a quick and economic access to production tools, affecting the processes of social development promoting new forms of property, industrial flexibility and cooperation.

Education We seek to create a tool that is educational and revolutionary, that can be used professionally around the world.

Obsolescence Like all other consumer goods, drones have an impact on the garbage we produce. We use wood, a biodegradable material that can be repaired or disposed of in the event of an accident without generating waste and the electrical skeleton can be easily reused. It is designed with the minimum necessary elements to fly, looking for the reuse of components, such as smartphones.

Flone Profile


The original team for Flone as part of the New Things New Starts exhibition were:

Lot Amorós: With no fixed place of residence, Amorós lives and works around the world. He is a Spanish computer engineer and transdisciplinary artist who works with data visualisation interfaces, mixed reality performances and interactive audiovisual instruments. He has created a number of installations for residencies and international digital art installations, including the projects EVA in Sao Paulo and Augmented Airspace in Cairo. In May 2012 he was an artist-in-residence in the Netherlands, with the project Guerrilla Drone, an air interface for the projection of images. Since then, his projects have focused on the power of air robotics through drones.

Cristina Navarro: Industrial Technical Engineer at the Polytechnic University of Alcoy and Technician specialising in car mechanics and electricity. She has won several prizes for different artistic and technical works around the automotive industry. She is very involved in political and social life, participating in different local organisations, including a feminist association that she founded with three other partners in 2011, and with which she encourages the participation of women in technology.

Alexandre Oliver: Oliver is an Industrial Engineer at Miguel Hernández University at Elx. At the age of 15, he started manufacturing modeling rockets and, later on, jet turbines, using the materials at his disposal and the information on the Internet. Later he got involved in the world of digital fabrication and develops several prototypes of CNC machines, always in a self-taught way. He is convinced that the future (and present) of engineering must involve digital manufacturing together with shared free knowledge and self-learning.

Technology

From the Flone 3.0 [instructables] page:

Flone is a powerful, compact, and smart design of a low-cost quadcopter that can carry easily an smartphone, or a camera in a gimbal, and much more.

The Flone ecosystem is composed by:

  • SVG files to produce a low cost quadcopter using a laser cutter.
  • Android App to control the quadcopter.
  • Cut files for a servo gimbal for a camera.
  • Instructions and cutting files of a transportation box.

Software is licensed by [GPL v3]. Frame and the rest of elements are licensed under [Creative Commons BY-SA].

Implications

The production of a low cost, DIY drone system is of great value to a wide variety of communities. From capturing sporting events, demonstrations or large public or private spaces, through to playful experimentation in unusual spaces or landscapes.

Relevant LSP projects:
MONICA (Management Of Networked IoT Wearables – Very Large Scale Demonstration of Cultural Societal)
SynchroniCity (SynchroniCity: Delivering an IoT enabled Digital Single Market for Europe and Beyond)
IoF2020 Internet of Food and Farm 2020

Notes