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Researchers develop 3D-printed flying drones capable of self-assembly

Stashed in: Robots!, Awesome, Flying!, Turing, 3D Printers, Bots, Drones, Drones!

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The Distributed Flight Array (DFA) has been developed by a team of researchers at the Institute for Dynamic Systems and Control (IDSC) at ETH Zürich university in Switzerland.

Each robot has a 3D-printed hexagonal plastic chassis with magnets fixed to the sides of the frame and a single propeller fitted in the middle.

Independently, the honeycomb-shaped robots fly in an erratic and uncontrolled way. However, the robots are able to detect each other, link to form a bigger craft and then fly in a controlled manner as a single unit. The task of keeping the multi-propeller system in flight is distributed across the network of vehicles.

Each independent module exchanges information with the others and uses sensors to determine how much thrust it needs for the array to take off and maintain flight.

Printing themselves and assembling themselves mean they reproduce!

This is one step closer to creating life.

And they GATHER, one to another. 

That has potential for some very bad futures.

I think this definitely paves the way for Cyberdyne Systems Model 101...

The video is great! Though fully robotic, it seems organic too, like a multicellular organism. Each cell is fully independent, but they have an "evolutionary advantage" when joined together (notice how @ beginning of video one cell cannot fly on its own). There's also something life-like about how it flies equally well in a wide range of geometries, not just the configuration(s) invented by the programmer.  

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