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January 17, 2011 AT 9:31 am

Using Quadrotors to Build Structures

This is neat! From BotJunkie:

Back in July, we wrote about how UPenn’s GRASP Lab had taught their quadrotors to work together to grasp and move things. The next step, it seems, is teaching the quadrotors to work together to grasp and move things and actually build buildings. The video above shows a team of quadrotors cooperating to construct the framework of a (rather small) building. The building’s structure is held together with magnets, and the quadrotors are able to verify that the alignment is correct by attempting to wiggle the structural components around, which is pretty cool.

It’s fun to speculate about how this technology might grow out of the lab into the real world… To build actual buldings, you’d either need much bigger quadrotors (which is possible), lots of small quadrotors cooperating in big pieces (also possible), or buildings built out of much smaller components (which might be the way to go). The quadrotors probably wouldn’t be able to do all the work, but they have the potential to make construction projects significantly more efficient.

You have to love the sound at the end — like a swarm of helpful bees. In addition to the ideas outlined above, I’m wondering if this technology could be applied to emergency situations. Imagine, for example, a swarm of quadrotors moving sandbags into position in the event of an impending flood.


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