Aerial Additive Building Manufacturing

Swarm construction

Aerial Additivie Building Manufacturing is a UK EPSRC funded research that will develop an aerial robotic construction system that enables aerial robots to 3D print building structures autonomously. Additive Building Manufacturing (ABM) is already being trialled in many parts of the world and involves the use of large robots on a building site to 3D print (extrude) building materials to construct buildings. The research aims to miniaturise ABM and provide it with aerial capabilities so that it can be more mobile, and able to manufacture complex building structures while adapting to diverse site scenarios. This miniaturisation will also enable parallel production, where swarms of aerial printers working together could potentially reduce construction time and enable safer construction in hard-to access and dangerous conditions; often faced in construction work at-height and post-disaster reconstruction. For more information, please click here‌.

 

Automated Construction in Unstructured Environments with Aerial Robots

Aerial construction

 

Aerial robots with the capability to autonomously construct structures would be invaluable in many applications: building temporary shelters following natural disasters such as earthquakes and floods, deploying scaffolding and support structures on conventional construction sites , or assembling ramps across gaps and difficult terrain to enable access to terrestrial vehicles. However, construction in unstructured environments would require aerial robots that adapt to terrains and layouts unique to individual physical sites. A framework for collective construction with multiple robots would be needed to enable collaborative robot-to-robot operations, dynamic task sharing, and collision avoidance. Construction materials would need to be lightweight to comply to the payload and battery life limitations of the aerial robots, but also versatile to conform to a wide ranging task requirements in target environments. 

Our goal is to develop novel autonomous manufacturing methods by investigating techniques for building physical structures with aerial robots. This pursuit is multidisciplinary, combining unconventional building materials, behavioural construction algorithms and swarm control of aerial robot builders. The work is largely inspired by the way how animals, such as birds and bees, build structures using environmental material in combination with adhesives and intricate architectural designs. The current focus areas of the work include:

  • Robot and mechanism designs for aerial construction Bespoke aerial robots, mechanisms, and hardware that are designed and optimised for construction tasks including deploying tensile elements and depositing amorphous materials. 
  • Algorithms for automated collective construction and assembly Framework for autonomous construction that utilises swarm intelligence,  task allocation and sharing, reactive response to dynamic environment conditions such as 
  • Materials and structures design  Development of lightweight materials with specifications and properties specific to aerial construction and deposition procedures for building freeform structures. 
 
 

Construction

Perching

Tensile Construction

Collective construction of tensile support structures to enable perching for long-duration monitoring

Aerial 3D Printer

Aerial Additive Manufacturing

Additive manufacturing with an aerial robot using amorphous materials 

 

Media

 Tensile Web Construction and Perching with Nano Aerial Vehicles - May 2016

    

We show how a team of nano aerial vehicles can work together to build tensile support structures to enable a perching aerial vehicle to stay aloft for an extended period of time.

 

Lead Researchers


Talib Alhinai

Pisak Chermprayong

Maxime Bouyssou 

Sina Sareh

Ketao Zhang

 

Publications

 
 
 

Funding

 

Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)