Superflux research project imagines London patrolled by a fleet of drones

Dezeen and MINI Frontiers: Superflux has built a series of drones, which the London studio suggests could one day be used in cities for surveillance, traffic control and advertising (+ movie).

Drone Aviary by Superflux
Drone Aviary installation at the Victoria and Albert Museum. Copyright: V&A

Superflux's Drone Aviary project, which is currently on show at the Victoria and Albert Museum's All of This Belongs to You exhibition in London, consists of five unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and a short film.

Drone Aviary by Superflux
Drone Aviary installation at the Victoria and Albert Museum. Copyright: Dezeen

"Drone Aviary is a research and development project, which explores the social, political and cultural implications of drone technology as it enters civil space," explains Superflux co-founder Anab Jain in the movie. "We've gone under the hood of the technology and built a series of drones from scratch."

Drone Aviary by Superflux
Drone Aviary installation at the Victoria and Albert Museum. Copyright: V&A

The five UAVs, which are each designed for a different purpose, can all be programmed to fly autonomously and feature the basic technology that drones might use in future to patrol cities, such as GPS and facial recognition software.

Drone Aviary by Superflux
Nightwatchman drone by Superflux

With a form that resembles a CCTV camera, Nightwatchman is a simple surveillance drone, which could be used by the government or private security agencies to capture data and detect terrorist threats.

Drone Aviary by Superflux
Routehawk drone by Superflux

Routehawk is designed to regulate traffic flow and monitor vehicles for speeding or parking offences.

Drone Aviary by Superflux
Newsbreaker drone by Superflux

Newsbreaker is a drone that might be used by media companies in future to arrive first at the scene of a crime or accident. Superflux imagines that such a drone could be programmed to monitor web and radio traffic to seek out breaking news as it happens.

Drone Aviary by Superflux
Madison advertising drone by Superflux

Superflux's largest machine is an advertising drone called Madison, which Jain describes as "a flying billboard".

The drone features face tracking technology, which Superflux suggests could be used to target advertisements at specific people and gauge their reactions.

Drone Aviary by Superflux
FlyCam Instadrone

The final drone in the series is the FlyCam Instadrone, which Superflux envisages as a cheaper and more accessible version of the consumer drones that are available today.

Drone Aviary by Superflux

The accompanying film at the exhibition consists of footage shot from each of these drones as they fly through London, scanning people and objects and capturing data.

Drone Aviary by Superflux

"The film is a fleeting glimpse of the city of London from the perspective of these drones," Jain explains. "The drones become protagonists as they fly around the city logging data into what we imagine is a bigger database. It raises questions about who owns our data, where all this media is being collected."

Drone Aviary by Superflux

Jain believes that drones will one day be commonplace in our cities and says the Drone Aviary project aims to make people consider the consequences.

"This really isn't too much of a stretch of the imagination," she says. "In the last year, millions of pounds have been invested in civilian drone technology. We want people to think about it critically."

Drone Aviary by Superflux

This movie was filmed at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. Drone Aviary is part of the museum's All of This Belongs to You exhibition, which is running from 1 April to 19 July 2015.

Additional footage used in the movie is courtesy of Superflux. The Soundtrack is by Sam Conran and is taken from Superflux's Drone Aviary film.

All photographs used in this post are by Superflux, unless otherwise stated.

Jon Arden and Anab Jain of Superflux
Jon Arden and Anab Jain of Superflux. Copyright: Dezeen