Flying robots build structure

ETH Zurich roboticist Raffaello D'Andrea is collaborating with architects on a new building construction technique using flying robots. Their demonstration installation, Flight Assemebled Architecture, has just opened at the FRAC Centre in Orléans, France. Four autonomous quadcopter robots retrieve foam bricks and then a networked computer vision system directs their placement. The installation consists of more than 1,500 bricks and is a 1:100 model of what the architects Fabio Gramazio and Matthias Kohler call a "vertical village."

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The robots fly autonomously, but they get help from the environment: The ceiling of the room where the assembly is taking place was equipped with a motion-capture system. A computer uses the vision data to keep track of the quadcopters and tell them where to go…

When a robot's battery runs low, it automatically lands on a charger and a new quad rotor takes its place. The assembly is happening at a pace of 100 bricks per hour on average, D'Andrea says. Glue on the bottom of the bricks keeps them in place (the installation will become part of FRAC's permanent collection).

"Watch Flying Robots Build a 6-Meter Tower" (IEEE Spectrum)

Flying Machine Enabled Construction (ETH)

"Flying robots, the builders of tomorrow" (Reuters via YouTube, thanks Jay Dautcher!)