Drone delivers your 3D printed figurine at Burning Man

There’s an event in the Black Rock Desert in northern Nevada each year called Burning Man, where thousands of people pay about $400 admission to gather together, with the intention to “generate society that connects each individual to his or her creative powers, to participation in community, to the larger realm of civic life, and to the even greater world of nature that exists beyond society.” They “believe that the experience of Burning Man can produce positive spiritual change in the world.” Aside from all that, it’s one crazy event.

And as with everything these days, 3D printing may play a role. This year, there is a new art project in development called Blue Sky, dreamed up by a nonprofit called ReAllocate. A visitor to the ReAllocate dome (made out of shipping containers), can be 3D scanned and receive a 3D printed model of themselves before leaving Burning Man.

If that were the end of the story, it would be no big deal. This is already being done here and there. No, there’s a big difference with this 3D scanning/printing session. The 3D miniature will be delivered by a drone. Using GPS tracking to find the figurine’s human counterpart in the mass of people.

First some details on the scan itself: the visitor will be scanned by a Microsoft Kinect camera. The captured 3D image is converted into a file that is them sent to a Cubify Cube 3D printer. The Cube is the hot new personal 3D printer created by industry giant, 3D Systems.

Yeah, yeah, that’s all old hat for us 3D printing enthusiasts. But it gets more interesting. When the person is scanned he or she is handed a GPS transponder to take with them. It’s not to alert them when their 3D model is done, it’s to direct an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) in the form of a quadcopter — a drone — along with the model hanging from it, to the recipient.

If the scanee is not partying too much (this is Burning Man), he or she will notice the alarm that is triggered on the transponder they were given. At that point, they look up into the sky and see their drone descending down to deliver their personal mini me.

A contribution is required at the outset and will be used to fund a documentary about the project. And it’s to make sure the GPS device is actually returned.

ReAllocate.org is an organization that curates teams of world class talent and pairs them with specific technical projects, humanitarian organizations (other non-profits, NGOs) and resources to solve global challenges.

Blue Sky is the “pilot for a technology/entrepreneurship center in a shipping container that will be deployed in economically underserved communities, providing resources and mentorship for local entrepreneurs to create and launch sustainable businesses.”

Blue Sky is seeking funding on crowdsourcing site Indiegogo, and as of this writing, there are only 42 hours remaining to come up with the $15,000 required to fund the project. They currently are only at $3,995. With Indiegogo, the project gets to keep what they raised, even if under the goal at the deadline. So if they don’t meet their goal, it doesn’t mean Blue Sky won’t go forward. If you’re interested, head over to the project page and contribute something.

I don’t know about you, but all these drones flying around overhead are making me a little nervous. At least this one isn’t spying on me like the thousands of drones already in use and planned by the Obama administration. But regardless of their use, I hope they don’t malfunction over my head.

Bonus videos:

Here is a video of the actual quadcopter:

Here’s a video update from the team, on the 3D printing process:

h/t: Wired