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[liberationtech] <nettime> World's First Flying File-Sharing Drones in Action

Eugen Leitl eugen at
Wed Oct 24 07:53:13 PDT 2012

----- Forwarded message from michael gurstein <gurstein at> -----

From: michael gurstein <gurstein at>
Date: Sun, 21 Oct 2012 10:38:22 +0600
To: Nettime-L <nettime-l at>
Subject: <nettime>  World's First Flying File-Sharing Drones in Action
X-Mailer: Microsoft Outlook 14.0

20320/> 's First Flying File-Sharing Drones in Action

A few days ago The Pirate Bay announced that in future parts of its site
could be hosted on GPS controlled drones. To many this may have sounded like
a joke, but in fact these pirate drones already exist. Project "Electronic
Countermeasures" has built a swarm of five fully operational drones which
prove that an "aerial Napster" or an "airborne Pirate Bay" is not as
futuristic as it sounds.

 picture of a drone <> In
an ever-continuing effort to thwart censorship, The Pirate Bay plans to turn
flying drones into mobile hosting locations
es-120318/> .

"Everyone knows WHAT TPB is. Now they're going to have to think about WHERE
TPB is," The Pirate Bay team told TorrentFreak last Sunday, announcing their
drone project.

Liam Young, co-founder of Tomorrow <>
's Thoughts Today, was amazed to read the announcement, not so much because
of the technology, because his group has already built a swarm of
file-sharing drones. 

"I thought hold on, we are already doing that," Young told TorrentFreak. 

Their starting point for project "Electronic Countermeasures" was to create
something akin to an 'aerial Napster' or 'airborne Pirate Bay', but it
became much more than that.

"Part nomadic infrastructure and part robotic swarm, we have rebuilt and
programmed the drones to broadcast their own local Wi-Fi network as a form
of aerial Napster. They swarm into formation, broadcasting their pirate
network, and then disperse, escaping detection, only to reform elsewhere,"
says the group describing their creation.



File-Sharing Drone in Action (photo by Claus Langer
<> )

 picture of a sharing drone


In short the system allows the public to share data with the help of flying
drones. Much like the Pirate Box
ine-for-next-to-nothing-120311/> , but one that flies autonomously over the

"The public can upload files, photos and share data with one another as the
drones float above the significant public spaces of the city. The swarm
becomes a pirate broadcast network, a mobile infrastructure that passers-by
can interact with," the creators explain. 

One major difference compared to more traditional file-sharing hubs is that
it requires a hefty investment. Each of the drones costs 1500 euros to
build. Not a big surprise, considering the hardware that's needed to keep
these pirate hubs in the air.

"Each one is powered by 2x 2200mAh LiPo batteries. The lift is provided by
4x Roxxy Brushless Motors that run off a GPS flight control board. Also on
deck are altitude sensors and gyros that keep the flight stable. They all
talk to a master control system through XBee wireless modules," Young told

"These all sit on a 10mm x 10mm aluminum frame and are wrapped in a vacuum
formed aerodynamic cowling. The network is broadcast using various different
hardware setups ranging from Linux gumstick modules, wireless routers and
USB sticks for file storage."

For Young and his crew this is just the beginning. With proper financial
support they hope to build more drones and increase the range they can

"We are planning on scaling up the system by increasing broadcast range and
building more drones for the flock. We are also building in other systems
like autonomous battery change bases. We are looking for funding and backers
to assist us in scaling up the system," he told us.

Those who see the drones in action (video below) will notice that they're
not just practical. The creative and artistic background of the group shines
through, with the choreography performed by the drones perhaps even more
stunning than the sharing component.

"When the audience interacts with the drones they glow with vibrant colors,
they break formation, they are called over and their flight pattern becomes
more dramatic and expressive," the group explains. 

Besides the artistic value, the drones can also have other use cases than
being a "pirate hub." For example, they can serve as peer-to-peer
communications support for protesters and activists in regions where
Internet access is censored.

Either way, whether it's Hollywood or a dictator, there will always be
groups that have a reason to shoot the machines down. But let's be honest,
who would dare to destroy such a beautiful piece of art?




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----- End forwarded message -----
Eugen* Leitl <a href="">leitl</a>
ICBM: 48.07100, 11.36820
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