A Surprising New Use for Drones: Obscuring Nudity

Editor’s Note: This article previously appeared in a different format as part of The Atlantic’s Notes section, retired in 2021.

Quadcopters hovered back into the news on Monday, as the Federal Aviation Administration announced that most civilian-owned drones would need to be registered with the U.S. government by the middle of February 2016.

In Japan, quadcopters hovered into the news this weekend too—but for a very different reason.

The retailer BUYMA released a TV ad in that country that, well, wouldn’t have made it to air if there weren’t drones.


The ad, titled “A Kind Drone,” features two nude dancers who leap and pirouette. The ballerinas are censored—and thus permitted to air on Japanese television—only because of the crafty work of several quad-copters, which whirr and whoosh into perfectly pixelating positions.

Spoon Tamago notes that the ad ends a year where drones have played an outsize role in Japan’s culture: “Memorable incidents include a drone landing on the roof of the Prime Minister’s residence, drone deregulation that would allow companies like Amazon to fly packages to customers, and anti-drone police drones.”

Buyma’s ad—which only aired on TV once, so the company is no doubt loving all the viral attention—is below.

(Hat tip: Spoon Tamago)