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flyfire MIT hushing up swarmbot display tech?

On Wednesday morning, Evan Ackerman over at BotJunkie posted about MIT’s Flyfire system. The idea behind the system is simple and very exciting: Swarms of tiny LED-carrying robot helicopters arrange themselves in the air to make 2D or 3D displays in which each bot serves as a single pixel. Evan linked to the project’s homepage on MIT’s SENSEable City Lab server and embedded a video posted by the group to YouTube showing the individual prototype swarmbots, which already exist, and some computer renderings of what the working displays would look like. Exciting, eh?

Within an hour of Evan’s post going live, MIT took down the FlyFire page and the YouTube video. Or at least password-protected them. I can imagine why they might not want the traffic surge bogging down their own servers, but why yank the YouTube video? Why wouldn’t they want people paying attention to this project?

Update: Looks like both the project page and their YouTube video are publicly accessibly again. Dunno what was going on, but clearly it was non-shady. Thanks, guys!

Sean Michael Ragan

I am descended from 5,000 generations of tool-using primates. Also, I went to college and stuff. I am a long-time contributor to MAKE magazine and makezine.com. My work has also appeared in ReadyMade, c’t – Magazin für Computertechnik, and The Wall Street Journal.


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