A drone designed to get rid of graffiti and tagging won first prize in San Jose, Calif.’s Unleash Your Geek graffiti removal competition and was demonstrated by its inventors at the Civil & Government Tech Showcase.
The Graffiti Removal Automatic Drone could save the city millions of dollars in graffiti removal by covering up tags in hard-to-reach places such as highway overpasses. The drone carries a spray can it uses to paint over the tags.
“There’s just something great about being able to find a solution to something that we see everyday as we’re driving around,” co-inventor Chris Farmer said. “It’s literally improving the very community we live in, which is really satisfying.”
The inventors are currently working on a 2.0 version of the graffiti-fighting drone that would be able to walk or even crawl up a building or overpass to remove tagging.
“One of the benefits of being in Silicon Valley is there are a lot of evidences of really neat technology, and we’re surrounded by drones being used in different applications,” co-inventor Candace Marbury said. “And so in the brainstorming process you take your environment and you figure out innovative ways to repurpose things.”
By saving money on graffiti removal, San Jose could redirect those funds to other projects, such as fixing potholes. But because of current FAA regulations that prevent drones from flying over cars or people, it will be some time before such a drone could be used for its intended purpose.
“With this device, we will be able to get to those locations that are on Caltrans property or railroad property and that will help us get ahead of the taggers,” said San Jose mayor Sam Liccardo, who championed the Unleash Your Geek competition.