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Katsuru Beta is a graffiti-painting consumer drone launching in 2020

Whether it’s advanced security systems capable of singling out troublemakers in a crowd or police UAVs used as an alternative to helicopters, there’s no doubt that drones are often on the side of law and order these days. But New York artist Katsu, in combination with Moscow-based startup Tsuru Robotics, is striking a blow for drones as instruments of rebellious behavior with his new graffiti drone.

Since 2015, Katsu has built a couple of graffiti-painting modified DJI quadcopters, called Icarus One and Icarus Two, and used them to deface billboards and spray-paint political messages. The rationale for using a drone is that they can get to those hard-to-reach places that ordinary graffiti artists (what the kids call “taggers”) would be unable to subversively deface.

Now Katsu is set to launch the Katsuru Beta, a limited edition quadcopter that will make it easier for you to become a paint-spraying, drone-flying graffiti artist of your own. “The Katsuru Beta is the very first smart painting drone available to anyone,” reads the drone’s website. “It reaches unreachable surfaces. It paints at enormous scale. It will kick off a new era in art [and] activism.”

The drone features four propellor arms which fold away when not in use, making the drone easier to carry. It holds its standard size spray can in a central section, activated using a remote control unit. It’s able to fly for around 10 minutes, which should be long enough to carry out more rudimentary tagging designs.

The Katsuru Beta will initially be semi-autonomous, giving users the ability to manually control where it sprays, although the drone will stay a fixed distance away from walls for consistency. However, there will reportedly an update later in 2020 offering full autonomy as well.

Right now, the drone is available for pre-orders, which will finish on January 1, 2020. It is priced at $2,499 and comes with a replacement sprayer unit and case signed by Katsu. Would-be buyers must be at least 18 years of age. Shipping is set to take place in June.

One word of warning, though: According to its makers the drone “will require patience and practice in order to use.” Anyone who has ever tried their hand at graffiti will know there’s a learning curve to achieve anything halfway decent. Add a flying vehicle into the mix and, presumably, that curve gets even steeper!

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