Two quadcopter drones just autonomously built a footbridge that is capable of withstanding the weight of a human. Outfitted with a motorized spool and plastic tubes that dispense Dyneema, a "material with a low weight-to-strength ratio," the flying machines were able to construct a lightweight tensile bridge that spans 7.4 meters between two scaffolding structures at the Flying Machine Arena in Zurich.
"In this work, a rope bridge that can support the crossing of a person is built by quadrocopters, showing for the ﬁrst time that small ﬂying machines are capable of autonomously realizing load-bearing structures at full-scale and proceeding a step further towards real-world scenarios. Except for the required anchor points at both ends of the structure, the bridge consists exclusively of tensile elements and its connections and links are entirely realized by ﬂying machines," said IDSC researcher Federico Augugliaro.
This advancement was a collaborative effort between the Institute for Dynamic Systems and Control (IDSC) and Gramazio Kohler Research, whose work focuses on aerial construction - an emerging field that addresses the construction of structures with the aid of flying machines.
It is hoped that this technology could one day be used in humanitarian relief efforts.