May 7, 2014

The Aerial Robotics Lab at Imperial College London is at the forefront of research and technological innovation in robotics technologies. Their recent project, the world's first 3D printing flying robot, can build nests and carry heavy containers out of hard-to-reach places - all autonomously.

The idea was inspired by the swiflets that build nests using their own saliva. The researchers at the Aerial Robotics Laboratory of Imperial College London, led by Mirko Kovac, Adam Braithwaite and Graham Hunt, built a quadcopter, an aerial robot that can print structures and build its own nest.

The quadcopter can be used to help remove dangerous objects in challenging environments. To remove an object, this flying 3D printer first prints a sticky form onto the object. Then a second robot, which guides itself to the object using GPS and sensors, lands on the foam. In a few minutes, after the chemical form hardens, the second robot takes off again, carrying the object with it. Such drones can be used to remove radioactive waste from nuclear sites, or to fix damaged roofs and building bridges.

The hexacopter, the second robot, runs on a regular battery but can carry at least 2.5 kilograms, says Kovac. He expects the scaled-up versions could carry up to 40 kg. In the future the robots can also be equipped with a fuel cell that allows them to recharge their batteries with solar cells.

The goal is to increase the mission of drones, which could, for example, be deployed in remote situations. "In particular, extending the scope of scientific survey robots in challenging environments such as rainforests through the adaptable construction of recharging platforms or monitoring stations," said Thomas Creedy, an ecologist at the Natural History Museum in London who is working with Kovac.

Kovac plans to show off the drones at the Imperial Festival in London on 9 and 10 May.

Watch the video below showing the flying 3D printer and robot in action.


via News Scientist

Posted in 3D Printers

Maybe you also like:


Nick wrote at 6/2/2014 5:57:59 AM:

Let's be clear- this is cool, but it is not a 3D printer.

Mark wrote at 5/8/2014 6:21:00 PM:

I want to get paid for duct taping a 3doodler to a quadcopter...

Anja - wrote at 5/7/2014 7:17:08 PM:

@Dave, Thanks! fixed.

Dave wrote at 5/7/2014 6:53:41 PM:

FYI, (your first line) the research group is the Aerial Robotics Lab and is not not The Hamlyn Centre

Bruce L. wrote at 5/7/2014 4:29:19 PM:

This is a solution for fixed materials like fuel rods, etc that are already somewhat contained. Somehow I cannot see this to remove things like contaminated soil and so forth since there is no good way to seal the bottom of teh object.

ken Cummings wrote at 5/7/2014 4:09:22 PM:

The only new thing is autonomous. Deezmaker was doing everything else with a quadcopter and a Bukito printer a year ago.

Leave a comment:

Your Name:


Subscribe us to Feeds twitter facebook   

About provides the latest news about 3D printing technology and 3D printers. We are now seven years old and have around 1.5 million unique visitors per month.

News Archive