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News » UK » Buildings could be constructed by swarms of flying robots » published 18 Feb 2016

Buildings could be constructed by swarms of flying robots

Scientists and engineers are collaborating on a project to develop flying robots that can make buildings in remote areas using 3D printing technology.

Drones are increasingly used in construction for surveillance but could they be used for actual construction too? Above: Drones are increasingly used in construction for surveillance but could they be used for actual construction too?

The research team aims to develop drones that can fly into disaster zones and, using additive building manufacturing (ABM) systems, make shelters and buildings for disaster relief.

The four-year collaborative research project, called ‘Aerial Additive Building Manufacturing: Distributed Unmanned Aerial Systems for in-situ manufacturing of the built environment’, involves researchers from the University of Bath, Imperial College and University College London.

Although ABM is already transforming the construction industry by allowing the 3D printing of buildings and building components, ABM systems are generally too large and inflexible for maintenance and repair work, especially in remote areas.

The drones in this project will use a new ABM system to remotely manufacture building structures such as shelters and bridges for those in need.

The research team aims to develop the world's first ABM system consisting of a swarm of aerial robots that can autonomously assess and manufacture building structures. They plan to miniaturise ABM and give it aerial capabilities so that it can be more mobile and able to manufacture complex high-rise structures.

This would enable the robots to act as flying mini-factories, where a swarm of them would land at to a construction site and work together to create buildings from scratch.

They would scan and model the landscape using building information management (BIM) systems.

The project is being led by Dr Mirko Kovac of Imperial College London’s department of aeronautics. His team has received more than £3.4m in funding from the Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council and industrial partners

Dr Richard Ball, senior lecturer in Bath University’s department of architecture & civil engineering, said it was an “ambitious and exciting project which will push the forefront of construction technologies into the future”.

 

 

MPU

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This article was published on 18 Feb 2016 (last updated on 18 Feb 2016).

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