Flying 3D printer drone is surprisingly not a completely stupid idea

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Drones aren’t cool. You know what’s cool? Drones that have a built in 3D printers. Surprisingly, they have a purpose too.

The drone, that was discovered by New Scientist was invented by Imperial College’s Mirko Kovac, who directed their aerial robotics lab. Whilst this may sound like a bizarre mashing together of two bleeding-edge technologies, it could actually have serious applications.

The idea is, for example, that the drone could be flown to retrieve radioactive waste – ‘printing’ a case around the waste, before picking it up and flying it away, without any humans having to get close to it.

Whilst this is only a small demo quadcopter – which can carry up to 2.5kg, the design could apparently be scaled up to carry 40kg, and Kovac can envisage drones being able to fly vast distances – creating their own landing platforms on the tops of trees using the 3D printing technology, before charging up using solar cells and taking off again. Drones like this could also be used to repair buildings, without needing ladders and cranes.

So it’ll be interesting to see where this goes, but most of all it has us wondering what other new technologies might work unexpectedly well together?

James O’Malley