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Community / Public space

These billboard drones suck up pollution to produce fuel

The uses of drones, more glamorously known as “flying robots”, are seemingly endless. Drone porn. Drone video tours. Drone paparazzi. Drones that scare geese.

The design collective NAS-DRA  have another suggestion to add to the pile, in the form of drones which (deep breath) perch on Hong Kong’s billboards, collect pollution, grow plants and produce fuel. Here’s one now:

The drones would sit above street level during the day with their wings spread, collecting pollution through a carbon-absorbant polymer paint. At night, they would use heat from neon billboards to release CO2 from the polymer, which would then be used to feed plants on the drone’s wings. Biowaste from the plants and carbon released from the polymer could also be used to produce fuel. 

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The design collective has christened the drones “parasitic robots”, which seems a little harsh. It describes the process somewhat more poetically on their website:

They wait [until] the night comes and neon ads flash the streets, then they embrace/entwine the colorful heat of information and inhale the pure carbon dioxide, feeding the plants covering their surface.

Aspects of the drone’s design, including the carbon-absorbant polymer paint, are still being tested, but the designers are hoping to roll out large-scale testing soon. Let’s hope they come up with a less terrifying name by then.

Images: NAS-DRA

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