It’s a Bird! It’s a Plane! It’s a Drone-Making Workshop Landing in Boston

Boston Drone Illustration

Photo illustration by Peter Crowther

Actually, it’s a drone. The time has come to imagine the civilian potential of unmanned aerial vehicles. And local artist Simon Remiszewski—along with the founders of Danger!Awesome, a storefront engineering space in Central Square—are poised to do just that, with a March 22 workshop in the company’s space, during which the public can design and build a drone.

While drones are often associated with warfare, they have countless nonlethal uses, according to Remiszewski. A group of artists in London, for instance, used a flock of drones to create a mobile WiFi umbrella, what they referred to as an “aerial Napster.” And drones equipped with cameras could be used to help activists document protests from the air.

Danger!Awesome’s founders, MIT grads Ali Mohammed and Cambridge City Councilor Nadeem Mazen, acknowledge that holding a drone-making workshop has political overtones. Because they are both Arab and Muslim, Mazen says, creating nonviolent drones is a way to make a statement. “This technology is an empty object, to be filled with whatever intent you give it,” Remiszewski adds.

Will drones fill Boston’s skies in the future? It seems likely. In December, the Federal Aviation Administration named an airport in northern New York as one of six drone research sites; MassDevelopment is partnering with that airport to include the airspace over upper Cape Cod for unmanned programmable vessels.

Remiszewski sees the FAA decision as an opportunity to fully explore the vehicles’ usefulness. “There is a lot of backlash around drone use,” he says. “But I think that a lot of that backlash comes from the fact that people don’t understand these weird technologies. They begin to blame the technology instead of blaming users of the technology.”