London thinktank has already lofted a fleet of swarming file-sharing drones

Earlier this week, I blogged the Pirate Bay's announcement of a plan to set up mirrors of its servers in high-altitude aerial drones with wireless Internet links. TorrentFreak has a discussion of Electronic Countermeasures, a project from Tomorrow's Thoughts Today, a London thinktank. Electronic Countermeasures does much of what TPB proposes, creating an "aerial napster" that uses autonomic swarm formation to create, disperse, and reform high-throughput temporary networks in the sky.b

Liam Young, co-founder of Tomorrow’s Thoughts Today, was amazed to read the announcement, not so much because of the technology, because his group has already built a swarm of file-sharing drones.

“I thought hold on, we are already doing that,” Young told TorrentFreak.

Their starting point for project “Electronic Countermeasures” was to create something akin to an ‘aerial Napster’ or ‘airborne Pirate Bay’, but it became much more than that.

“Part nomadic infrastructure and part robotic swarm, we have rebuilt and programmed the drones to broadcast their own local Wi-Fi network as a form of aerial Napster. They swarm into formation, broadcasting their pirate network, and then disperse, escaping detection, only to reform elsewhere,” says the group describing their creation.

World’s First Flying File-Sharing Drones in Action

(Image: Claus Langer)


  1. “It is the business of the future to be dangerous, and it is among the benefits of science that it equips the future for its duties.”  — Alfred North Whitehead, 1925.

  2. “We are the music makers and we are the dreamers of the dreams…” and now we are also apparently the little green men we have been waiting on. Beautiful video. Everyday is feeling more and more like sci-fi.

  3. Good thing they didn’t try that in Boston. If the cops didn’t like lit up images of video game space invader characters that just sat there, flying ones with a network signal would give them a collective heart attack.

  4. Very pretty proof of concept. A battery powered quadcopter has flight time of about ten minutes and a charge time of two hours so it is unlikely to be practical any time soon.

    1.  If the nodes are that small, and if they’re cheap enough to build (say using the Raspberry Pi), forget the copters, add a bigger power cell, and just have people carry them around and/or hide them for hours (days?) at a time.

      1. The raspberry pi is an attractive machine, but it’s very general purpose – more specific hardware might benefit the project.

        I’ve got something called a ‘pocket wifi 2′. It costs $30-$40 from stores. it has:
        a) a 3G connection
        b) broadcasts a wifi network (Bridged to 3g)
        c) 4-15 hours battery life, depending on how hard you’re hitting it
        d) microsd card storage up to 32gb.
        e) it weighs 80g. most of that weight is battery.

        It can handle 5 clients plus uplink, a whole bunch of port redirection and firewalling, and still get quite decent speeds. If somebody manages to get custom firmware running on it, it’ll make a great ultra-mobile torrent tracker.

        (The disadvantage: a raspberry pi could run the drone as well as tracker, while this device wouldn’t be powerful enough)

  5. They need little blimps. Blimps shaped like bunny rabbits, spermatozoa, goldfish, etc. 

    If we’re going for surreal futurism, go all . . . the . . .  way.

  6. So are you claiming copyright or something¿  You did it already, then great, the internet thanks you, so now let’s TPB launch some.

  7. I thought “hold on, I’ve seen those drones and buildings already!” And yes, this is footage of their project being displayed inEindhoven, the Netherlands, during last year’s “Glow” Art-festival. That’s also why there are huge crowds everywhere, and why the cars drive o the right side: It’s part of an art project, and people came to watch it. The whole thing was extremely interesting to see, a whole city full of awesome light-related art installations. Photographed the hell out of my camera :)
    You can see the official website here:

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