The dexterity and speed with which the flying drones carry out their tasks is so impressive we can’t help but draw comparisons with the movement of the feathered companions in Disney’s animated film, Snow White. Aided by a real-time motion capture system, the quadcopters evaluated the distance between the two scaffolds to calculate measurements and steps for building the bridge—all without human help. The three quadcopters were equipped with motorized spools of Dyneema rope, a material with a low weight-to-strength ratio, and worked in sync to weave knots, links, and braids to construct the rope bridge.
Related: Amsterdam’s new 3D-printed steel bridge is revolutionizing the building industry
As the video above shows, the finished bridge is strong enough to handle the weight of an adult human. Though this is an exciting development in automated construction, it’s important to note the exercise was carried out in the RTH Zurich Flying Machine Arena, a highly controlled indoor testing ground. While the project does mark a big step forward in the possibilities of drone construction and even in future disaster-relief scenarios, we’ll need to wait a bit longer to see how well these drones perform in outdoor environments.
+ ETH Zürich’s institute for Dynamic Systems and Control
Images via ETH Zürich’s institute for Dynamic Systems and Control