Swarms of Flying Robots to Build Disaster Relief Structures

February 19, 2016



A four-year collaborative research project with the catchy title of ‘Aerial Additive Building Manufacturing: Distributed Unmanned Aerial Systems for in-situ manufacturing of the built environment’,  is underway at the University of Bath, Imperial College and University College London.

The research team aims to develop the world's first Aerial Additive Building Manufacturing (Aerial ABM) System consisting of a swarm of aerial robots (Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS)) that can autonomously assess and manufacture building structures. ABM 3D systems use less material and take less time to build, so using this type of system for post-disaster reconstruction activities where manufacturing speed and material transport considerations are key would be hugely beneficial.

The Disaster Relief Drones could fly to a remote area that had suffered some kind of calamity, scan and model the landscape using its BIM, design a temporary shelter, and using ABM print the structure on the spot for use until emergency service people can get in.

In short, a flying mobile factory.

" We have already developed and demonstrated pilot results using UAS that can extrude 3D Print material during flight and we have developed simulation environments that allow for autonomous planning and execution of manufacturing with swarms of UAS working in collaboratively," says Stefan Leutenegger of Imperial College London.

The developers are also seeking to develop new modes of communication and control that enable the safe co-existence and cooperation of human workers, other robots and Aerial ABM robots on construction sites.

Industrial partners on this project include Dyson, Skanska, Ultimaker, BuroHappold and BRE Global.

Source: University of Bath