Culture

Epic real-life Space Invaders game uses drones, motorized seat and lasers

Makers at Israel's GeekCon whip up a version of a classic arcade game that puts players in the center of an alien invasion while still maintaining the 8-bit kitsch.

TAL DUEK 2013

Israel's GeekCon 2016 featured the ultimate tribute to the Atari era over the weekend: a human-scale, playable version of the classic game Space Invaders.

As you can see in the video demonstration, a fleet of drones display the old "invader" characters with LEDs. Someone manning a laser gun and moving it side-to-side like in the original game defends the planet from the invaders' 8-bit malevolence.

The invaders are flown by eight DJI Phantom 3 drones carrying LED strips and laser sensors and controlled by a computer to move in formation and play the game. The player sits in a seat that not only has its own laser turret, but is also wired for sounds and even vibrations to add to the gameplay.

The project involved the efforts of many. The team at vHive, a company that develops software to manage UAV fleets, helped develop the drone software. ForReal Team, an experience design studio, outfitted eight drones with LED displays and sensors, while a third team led by Avi Ostfeld, Ronen Wasserman (aka TinMan) and Rotem Stahl were in charge of creating a laser gun on a motorized car seat on lateral rails to bring the old two-dimensional shooter into the real world. Elad Segal, Yiftach Beer, Uri Harduf and Ran Nachmany were responsible for the game and communication software.

Hopefully no one makes a real-life Donkey Kong that's this involved. That would be just plain terrifying.

First published September 20, 12:36 p.m. PT.
Update, September 26, 9:02 a.m.: Adds complete list of team members who contributed to the project.