Drones Inspired by Bees 3D-Printing a Tower

We could have them build houses one day.

3D printing is a powerful process that could one day grow to the point where even our houses would be printed. You can get a glimpse of this possible future in the video above: there, several drones are building a tower while working together.

The researchers behind the project aim to create swarms of robots that could 3D print entire buildings. The idea is that 3D-printed shelters could be greener than standard construction methods, and drones could reach difficult-to-access areas.

The idea is inspired by bees or wasps and how they construct large nests working together. One drone deposits the building material, and the other checks the accuracy of everything printed. The drones are autonomous while flying, but a human monitors the process and can interfere if anything goes wrong.

The demonstration was done using foam and a special pseudoplastic cementitious material to build the structures. They were constructed within 5 millimeters of the original blueprint. Then, the team used the lights on the drones to create a light-trail time-lapse as they simulated making a tall dome-like structure. 

Director of the Aerial Robotics Laboratory at Imperial College London Mirko Kovac said the method could be used for construction in the Arctic or even on Mars.

While the system is not perfect now as the drones struggle to carry heavy loads, need charging, and require human supervision, the researchers hope to alleviate some of these problems by automating the charging of drones during projects.

Find out more about it here, read the paper on the website, and don't forget to join our Reddit page and our Telegram channel, follow us on Instagram and Twitter, where we share breakdowns, the latest news, awesome artworks, and more. 

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