You know how eight-year-olds just dream up crazy ideas for transforming, self-healing, laser-firing robotic war drones? Most of those kids grow up and realize that none of those things are possible. Then, there are the futurists at BAE Systems, who think that the British defense contractor will be capable of building those exact sorts of aircraft by 2040.
In the future, the company’s scientists and engineers suggest that 3D printing will be so advanced that it will be possible to additively manufacture small drones on the fly, so to speak. Though advanced 3D printing and robotic assembly, BAE researchers hope to fabricate the planes while in flight to tackle problems as they come up. The unmanned aerial vehicles could be used for everything you’d imagine. For instance, the researchers are projecting the use of wide-winged UAVs for short or long-term surveillance or unmanned helicopters to rescue civilians or soldiers. In the case that one of these planes goes down over enemy territory, they’d be equipped with circuit boards that would simply dissolve to avoid giving any information over to the other side. … (Read more)