Space & Innovation

Graffiti Robot Spray-Paints Murals On Its Own

Assisted painting system reproduces images with positional tracking and old-fashioned spray paint cans. Continue reading →

Banksy, stand aside. A robot is storming the world of graffiti art.

Well, kind of. In a rather inspired bit of DIY tinkering, a team from Dartmouth has rigged together a mural-painting system using a computer, two digital cameras, positional tracking technology and modified spray-paint cans. The "smart" paint cans spray giant, wall-sized murals with impressive results.

Eye-Tracking Tech Lets Artist Draw Hands-Free

Call up the image you want to paint on the computer, wave the spray paint can in front of a wall or canvas, and the nozzle triggers on its own - putting just the right amount of paint in just the right spot. Switch cans to add new colors, and before you know it you've got a giant frog mural.

It works like this: The two calibrated cameras are set up on either side of the user to track relative position to the canvas or wall. The spray paint cans, meanwhile, are fitted with small actuators attached to a 3-D printed mount. When the user holds the spray paint can in front of the canvas or wall, radio signals trigger the actuator's servo-motor which operates the spray nozzle.

The computer keeps track of everything in real time, dispensing the optimal amount of paint to the desired location. The user - "painter" at this point, I suppose - keeps an eye on the monitor to see approximately where the can needs to be positioned next.

Wojciech Jarosz

The system is designed to let non-artists create large-scale murals, according to Wojciech Jarosz, an assistant professor of computer science at Dartmouth and former senior research scientist at Disney Research Zurich.

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"Our assistive approach is like a modern take on ‘paint by numbers' for spray painting," Jarosz writes on the project page. "Most importantly, we wanted to maintain the aesthetic aspects of physical spray painting and the tactile experience of holding and waving a physical spray can while enabling unskilled users to create a physical piece of art."

The research - a collaboration between ETH Zurich, Disney Research Zurich, Dartmouth College and Columbia University.– is documented in the journal Computer & Graphics. You can dig into it all at the project page. There's also a pretty cool demo video there if you're having trouble visualizing exactly how this all works. I know I did.

via EurekAlert!

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