Wasp-inspired drones can now 3D Print buildings

Both 3D printing and drones are some of the fastest developing technologies in the tech industry. Imperial College London and Empa got inspired by Mark Hansell's book, Built by Animals
Interesting Engineering

Between a wasp and a bee, it is undeniable that people would prefer to encounter the latter. This is because bees are generally known to be more friendly in the sense that they do not typically sting unless provoked. While bees are great, they won’t be the highlight for now as we would focus on their less friendly counterpart, the wasps. 

Wasps. Aside from being mistaken as bees, they are also known for being aggressive and for causing some of that quick ER visits. Most of these things are negative but, have you ever noticed how quickly a wasp nest appears out of nowhere? Even in urban areas, wasps can quickly build their nests in a quick fashion. 

These insects can communicate perfectly with each other by using pheromones. This is why a wasp colony is a good example of great teamwork. Hit one wasp and you’ll have the rest of the colony aiming to sting you. Kidding aside, this communication strategy in a wasp’s colony allows them to survive, find food, mark their territories, and create their nests. 

Therefore, wasps and their colonies are examples of great builders in nature and this is what inspired researchers to create a similar system composed of 3D printers and drones. 

Researchers presented a collective construction system called aerial additive manufacturing. This is a multi-robot framework that can build structures after a few hours using 3D printing and path-finding drone units. They work similarly to how a wasp colony would and they can go on and build structures with minimal human interaction. 

The way that these drones build structures is also similar to how wasps work in building their nests. A wasp colony has specific groups that perform tasks and in building their nests, they use external sources to create durable materials suitable for building their home. 

The 3D printing drone system has two groups: the  BuilDrone and ScanDrone units which have their designated functions crucial in accomplishing a building task. BuilDrones uses foam or a cement-like material in building and works harmoniously with other units. In the event that the drone runs out of material, another unit would come and finish the task. 

This wasp-inspired system of building structures just shows how much we have advanced through time and how nature continues to be the perfect blueprint for the things we are yet to have. Should these 3D printing drone systems be improved in the future, do you think it would be the new trend in building and construction?