Flying 3D printers could provide assistance in disaster zones by covering radioactive material in a foam sealant and carting it to a safe area, say scientists. A team of engineers from Imperial College London led by Mirko Kovac have demonstrated the concept at a scaled down level with a pair of commercial drones.
In their tests (shown below) a quadrocopter with four rotors targets a piece of ‘nuclear waste’ and covers it with polyurethane, using a 3D printing module to create the foam in midair.
A second drone – a hardier hexacopter –then lands on the foam-covered object and waits for it set, effectively attaching the ‘waste’ to the drone before flying the dangerous material far away. The whole operating happens ‘more or less’ autonomously with GPS coordinates used to locate the target. … (Read more)