back to article Teams of aerial drones might one day help to build houses

Flying robots could be the answer to the challenge of building structures in remote locations or hard-to-reach spots, according to engineers who have developed a drone-based approach to 3D printing. Aerial additive manufacturing with multiple autonomous robots Aerial additive manufacturing with multiple autonomous robots. …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If they're using a "cement like material", they'll also need a drone to print a "rebar like material", unless they want to build a "pyramid like structure" rather than a "house like structure".

    1. Mike 137 Silver badge

      Properties of materials

      The big problem will be product strength, as there's no way to consolidate when 3D printing. Especially in the case of concrete, the majority of the finished strength results from compaction after pouring. And in the case of metals, the result of 3D printing is sintered (fused powder) which is both weaker and more porous than melted or extruded metal. So applications of 3D printing to building will be limited mostly to non-load bearing structures and infills. So there's a lot of potential but only in the right places.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Properties of materials

        Not to mention that it seems most of the time, work and energy goes into preparing the ground and installing/connecting to the local infrastructure. Seeing new housing estate go up, it seems like months from first breaking ground to staring on building the house. Next thing you know the houses are finished and people are moving in, The actual build process seems to be shortest part.

        I suppose if it's a small, off-grid, single story building in a hard to reach place and you don't want foundations, then it might work as described. Other than that, it might work eventually, some way down the dev process. I suspect, more likely, it will lead to other developments in other fields.

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: Properties of materials

          Foundation, framing, sheathing, roofing and drying in takes almost no time for a good crew. Neither does wiring, plumbing, HVAC, data and all the other trades.

          What takes time is waiting on the mandatory inspections between each part of the build.

      2. jessicaajames

        Re: Properties of materials

        I agree with you, product strength is so important

  2. Natalie Gritpants Jr

    If you're planning on retiring to a house you build, you should not be planning on it being remote or hard-to-reach for ambulances.

    1. MiguelC Silver badge

      They're planning to have drone-ambulances to take you to fully automated drone-doctors

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        drone-ambulances to take you to fully automated drone-doctors

        to take you to the fully auto-drone-dox, they'd probably first need to chop you up to small bits with their drone jaws (conveniently called 'man-dibles'). Though they might take you, instead, to the nearest field, as fertilizer, what's not to like?!

    2. jake Silver badge

      Oh, I don't know.

      Getting the fuck out of the rat-race was a fairly high priority for me.

      Obviously, YMMV.

  3. lglethal Silver badge

    Great! Now I dont need to just worry about bloody wasps building their nests in the Wood shed, I have to worry about bloody Drones building another room off the side of my house!!

    Where's the Drone Repellant???

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    might one day help to build houses

    LONG after they've been used by just about any army in the world (AND criminals) to attack, sting and paralyse enemy combatants, victims, etc. Yeah, I'm absolutely positive there's prospect of home-building too!

    1. spold Silver badge

      Re: might one day help to build houses

      Your jail cell has been completed and is waiting for you - the self-driving police van will be 'round to transport you shortly....

  5. Howard Sway Silver badge

    drones have built proof-of-concept prints including a 2.05m high cylinder

    Great. Can't wait wait to move into my new cylinder. Shame I'm slightly too tall for it, but I'm sure some sort of easily fitted canvas roof extension will be available too. Alternatively, wait to announce that these things can build a house until they've actually built a house.

  6. brainwrong

    "to construct and repair buildings in difficult-to-reach areas"

    Isn't this something that currently requires specialist skills, and therefore part of the "high wage economy" that we're being promised for the future?

  7. jake Silver badge


    "Next, the researchers will work with construction companies to validate the solutions"

    Yet another solution looking for a problem, then?

    The modern world sure seems to wast a lot of time and energy on pie in the sky, doesn't it?

  8. Anonymous Coward

    And they can run Doom!

    Please make it stop. 3D printing is marvelous for some applications. It sucks at building buildings. Adding drones just makes it suck more. It doesn't do good roofs or doors or windows and it doesn't do any of the things that are needed to complete a building (like hanging doors and windows much less wiring).

    It's like the computing debate of "does it run Doom?" where the answer is "yes" but the real answer is "why would you want to?"

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: And they can run Doom!

      OK, we won't mention Doom. Can it run Crysis?

      More to the point, does it use Rust instead of AutoLISP?

      Somehow, it wouldn't surprise me ...

  9. An_Old_Dog Silver badge

    Paywall / Actual Wasp Behavior

    I could not see beyond the paywall, but the summary linked-to indicated that two drones at a time could work on a project.

    From my vague (probably-supressed) memories of seeing all-too-much wasp activity as a child, I believe more-than-two wasps can simultaneously work on a building project.

    Can more-than-two drones simultaneously work on a building project if that project is big enough to use more than two drones at a time? I'm asking about the capabilities of the drone-control software.

  10. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

    3D Printed Barracks

    Whilst the article refers to 3D printing and points to a Wikipedia page, the same was essentially covered in an earlier article...

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