Flying robot drones build scale model structure

US university boffins build basic form with quad-rotor robot workers

A screen grab from an online video of the robots working.
A screen grab from an online video of the robots working.

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Computer boffins in the US have developed a fleet of flying robots capable of building basic structures in labratory conditions.

The book-sized robot drones have been developed by General Robotics, Automation, Sensing and Perception (GRASP) Laboratory at Penn Engineering, at the University of Pennsylvania. As the video shows, they are perfectly suited for producing structured projects in controlled environments.

If, however, this has you concerned about Terminator-scale technology, there's no need to worry. Full-scale versions are some time off yet.

See the robot drones in action here

While the video seems to show a fleet of robots effortlessly creating a three dimensional structure autonomously, the reality is a lot more complex. The entire system is co-ordinated by an army of infrared cameras and range-finding equipment.

And, while laser guided versions are under development; battery packs are becoming more adaptable and powerful; lighter sensors are being developed and processors more sophisticated, the idea that a fleet of drone robots could replace humans on the construction site is still the stuff that keeps Hollywood directors employed.

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