Les machines volantes de Léonard de Vinci

Leonardo Da Vinci's flying machines are exhibited in 3D at Clos Lucé

Who better embodied the dream of flight than Leonardo da Vinci, painter, engineer, and scientist who died in the 16th century ? Centuries before the first flying machine broke away from the earthly attraction, the Italian genius used to paint in his notebooks (notably in the famous codex of Turin, known as the Codex on the flight of birds) sketches of incredible flying machines, including his famous “ornithopter”. An exhibition dedicated to the pioneers of flight, which will be held from July 13 to September 3, 2018 at the Château du Clos Lucé (Amboise), Leonardo da Vinci’s last home, will allow to better know this facet of the Florentine polymath. And in particular to manipulate in 3D, from April to December 2018, on large touch screens, the reconstruction of these machines made by passionate volunteers thanks to an online platform made available by Dassault Systèmes. A virtual reality experience on HTC Vive headset, presented at a press briefing, has also been developed, although for now it will not be made available to the public. We can examine every machine in operation, in the gardens of Clos Lucé.

“Ornithopter” by Leonardo da Vinci, reconstructed in 3D thanks to a community of designers

Leonardo da Vinci, pioneer of biomimicry

These flying machines are today very well known, and almost instantly evoke Da Vinci. “He is not the first to have wanted to fly : we know of previous attempts that go back to antiquity”, recalls Pascal Brioist, professor researcher at the University of Tours and specialist of Leonardo da Vinci. On the other hand, he was one of the first to have imagined the mechanical concept of lift of a wing, abundantly documented in his sketches and his observations of the natural world, especially birds, insects or bats.”To the point that François Saint Bris, manager of the Château du Clos Lucé, sees in him a pioneer of biomimicry, this process of design in engineering that is inspired by the achievements of the living.

But on this question of theft, the Florentine codices remain incomplete : “There was an interpretation work to be done to translate the notes of the codex into 3D machines”, continues Pascal Brioist. “Because sometimes the sketches of the same machine are scattered on several pages, we are not sure that they refer to a single machine. Control of the final design by historians was necessary”. On arrival ? 3D models of these machines, incredibly realistic and refined, which can be manipulated at 360° thanks to a large interactive touch screen. In an adjacent room, scale models of these machines are displayed to inspire young and old. These were made in the 1950s by engineers from the computer giant IBM. A sign that Da Vinci’s machines were, perhaps, destined to be digitized one day…

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