Autonomous Construction By Teams Of Quadrotor Robots
A team of autonomous quadrotor robots developed at UPenn's GRASP lab build tower structures with apparent ease. Are these the steel construction workers of the future?
(Quadrotor flying robotic construction drones)
In this project we used teams quadrotors to autonomously build cubic structures from modular parts. We developed a gripper to pick up parts vertically or horizontally. Magnets embedded in the parts allowed them to snap into place when close to the desired position. By applying a yawing moment, the quadrotors could determine if parts have been placed successfully and if necessary retry.
Using multiple quatrotors allowed structures to be built more quickly.
Our algorithm can construct any tower-like structure like the one showed here. We are only limited by the battery life of the quadrotors and the parts available.
Fans of James P. Hogan recall the clever drones from his 1979 book The Two Faces of Tomorrow:
A sudden rushing sound, like that of high-velocity ducted air, mixed with a fainter electric whine, came from halfway up the wall to their right... It was an array of open compartments that looked like pigeon holes for mail, except that each was a foot or more square...
The noise was coming from one of these objects. The object that it was coming from was a dull-gray cylinder about six inches across, lying on its side on top of a flat tubular framework that contained a mass of tightly packed gadgetry and wiring. The near end of the cylinder was distinctly insectlike, with a profusion of miniature probes and jointed arms, and a circle of recessed windows that could have been lens apertures.
It extended three of its tiny arms sideways to lock onto the registration pins located at intervals across the face and then, holding itself quite steady in the air, traversed slowly sideways until its axis was aligned with the array element from which Chris had taken the cartridge.
(Read more about the repair drones)