Scientists at the Aerial Robotics Lab in Imperial College London are developing a robotic quadcopter that can disperse polyurethane foam while flying. By targeting where the foam lands, the quadcopter can build structures, essentially making it a flying 3D printer. The device is inspired by the swiftlet, a bird that builds its nests while flying.
The quadcopter has two canisters that contain separate liquid chemicals. These chemicals mix together as they pass through the extrusion nozzle, where a chemical reaction converts the chemicals to foam.
The quadcopter then uses GPS and infrared cameras to identify targets on which to spray the foam. Sensor data is transmitted to a laptop, which considers the quadcopter's angles and flight path and relays foam extrusion commands back to the quadcopter.
This sort of technology could have important implications in the future. Quadcopters like these, once developed further, could be used to perform repairs in areas difficult or dangerous for humans to access.
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