By Anna Ellis •
Published: 22 Sep 2022 • 16:14
Switzerland model drones on swarms of bees
Under human control, these flying robots work as a team to print 3D materials for building or repairing structures while flying.
A new approach to 3D printing uses flying robots, known as drones, that use collective building methods inspired by natural builders like bees and wasps, according to the Swiss government.
The system, called Aerial Additive Manufacturing (Aerial-AM), involves a fleet of drones working together from a single blueprint.
It consists of BuilDrones, which deposit materials during flight, and quality-controlling ScanDrones, which continually measure the BuilDrones’ output and inform their next manufacturing steps.
Researchers say that in contrast to alternative methods, in-flight 3D printing unlocks doors that will lead to on-site manufacturing and building in difficult-to-access or dangerous locations such as post-disaster relief construction and tall buildings or infrastructure.
The research was Led by Professor Mirko Kovac of Imperial’s Department of Aeronautics and Empa’s Materials and Technology Center of Robotics.
Professor Kovac said: “We’ve proved the concept that drones can work autonomously and in tandem to construct and repair buildings, at least in the lab.”
“This scalable solution could help construction and repair in difficult-to-reach areas, like tall buildings,” he added.
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Originally from Derbyshire, Anna has lived in the middle of nowhere on the Costa Blanca for 19 years. She is passionate about her animal family including four dogs and four horses, musicals and cooking.
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