To demonstrate the drones’ capabilities, the researchers got them to use foam and a special lightweight form of cement to build structures with heights ranging from 0.18 meters to 2.05 meters. They were constructed to within 5 millimeters of the original blueprint.
Then, to show that the system could work on more complex formations, the team used the lights on the drones to create a light-trail time-lapse sequence as they simulated making a tall dome-like structure. Their work is described in a paper in Nature today.
Mirko Kovac, director of the Aerial Robotics Laboratory at Imperial College London, who led the research, says the method could be used to construct buildings in the Arctic or even on Mars, or simply to help repair tall buildings that normally would require expensive scaffolding.