Drone Lab 2016

In light of all the lively public discussions about drones recently, the growing importance of this technology and the wide ranging possibilities for deploying it, the 2016 Ars Electronica Festival presented a great opportunity to demonstrate how these airborne robots are currently being used.


Andreas Neubauer (LINK), Mitbegründer der European Rotorsports Association (Linz), die Regeln für Drohnenrennen.
Andreas Neubauer, co-founder of the European Rotorsports Association was explaining the rules for drone races. Credit: Markus Scholl


With the Spaxels defining the leading edge of aesthetic expressive possibilities via aerial swarm formations and in the wake of the worldwide media coverage of the Drone 100 world-record flight, the “Drone 100 – Spaxels over Linz” event highlighting the Ars Electronica Festival provided an effective hook for the Drone Lab’s launch. The man who came up with the idea of drone races and then went on to write the rules governing them and to cofound the European Rotorsports Association, Andreas Neubauer, explained and demonstrated to festivalgoers what drone racing is all about.


XBlade Allstars get radical begeisterten das Publikum der Gleishalle mit Drohnenrennen. Credit: Markus Scholl
XBlade Allstars get radical wowed the audience at Gleishalle with drone races. Credit: Markus Scholl


Ample proof of what a big draw these races are was provided by a visit to PostCity’s Train Hall, where the world’s fastest drone racers, the XBlade Allstars get radical, demonstrated how entertaining it is to behold unmanned aerial vehicles capable of speeds up to 140 km/h. Of course, festivalgoers also got a look at the technology behind the spectacle. Nevertheless, the spotlight was on the performative aspect of these racing drones, which flew to a thunderous drum accompaniment on Big Concert Night and in an artistic setting at the Festival’s opening event. A drone race-performance, you might say.


Tornado XBlades Racing demonstrierten Nano Drones. Credit: Markus Scholl
Tornado XBlades Racing were demonstrating the Nano Drones. Credit: Markus Scholl


The speakers included Jesus Pestana on the subject of drones as search & rescue equipment. Pakistani researcher Samira Hayat went on to explain how a network of drones conducts a rescue mission. Richard Koch gave spectators an up-close-and-personal look at a drone deployment for security & surveillance purposes. Bill Blair of Eagleeyeaerial, who witnessed the Spaxel flight at the 2016 Vivid Sydney Festival, explained how and where camera drones are being used in Australia, Europe and the USA, and Raffael Portugal covered the same ground with respect to Austria. In Deep Space, Spaxels initiator Horst Hörtner narrated a Best Of presentation of the world-famous quadcopter swarm’s feats.


Horst Hörtner, Senior Director des Ars Electronica Futurelab und Ideengeber der Spaxels hält im Deep Space einen Vortrag zum Quadcopterschwarm. Credit: Markus Scholl
Horst Hörtner, Senior Director of Ars Electronica Futurelab and Initiator of the Spaxels was holding a lectureon the quadcopter swarm at Deep Space. Credit: Markus Scholl


And for several days, we hosted a Drone Academy that offered members of the public an opportunity to try their hand at piloting an unmanned aerial vehicle using easy-to-steer flying robots in a safe setting (behind protective netting). They learned to work with technology that lots of people are talking about and many are already successfully using, and thus got acquainted with a phenomenon of enormous social relevance. Activities staged in conjunction with u19 took a playful approach that accentuated the positive aspects of quadcopter technology.

Idee und Konzept:

Chris Bruckmayr, Martin Honzik, Horst Hörtner, Gerfried Stocker


Chris Bruckmayr