Robotics Meets Architecture – 50 Quadcopters Will Autonomously Build Twenty Foot Tower (Video)

A new generation of architects is on the march. Leaving their rulers and compasses behind, these builders are trading in their blueprints for algorithms and putting the finer details of design in the hands of robots. This December, two Swiss architects and an Italian robotics engineer will, for the first time, build a tower solely by flying robots.

The demonstration, called “Flight Assembled Architecture“, will take place at the FRAC Centre in Orléans, France. Fifty quadcopters will take to the air simultaneously and work together to position all of the 1,500 prefabricated foam blocks. When it is completed the tower will stand 6 meters tall (19.7 feet) and 3.5 meters wide (11.5 feet). That’s a significant chunk of the 10 x 10 x 10 meter airspace that the 50 quadcopters get to work in. Custom built electronics and onboard sensors enable the precise control needed to dance together so dangerously close. The robots can be pre-programmed for flight paths that might include arcs and spirals, and a fleet management program takes over when the vehicles fly too close to avoid collisions. The program also automates take-offs and landings. A state-of-the-art motion capture system will track the robots simultaneously at a rate of 370 frames per second with millimeter accuracy. The tracking computer will send flight commands wirelessly from a control room nearby.

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