In the most recent development for 3D printed technology, engineers at the Imperial College just across the pond in London, England have built a series of unmanned drones that are being released in order to help protect the public from hazardous and nuclear waste. Preliminary tests have been successful and it’s believed that this technology will continue to evolve: such as printing helipads that can be placed in inconspicuous locations where drones can rest and recharge in between flights.
The minds behind the project, Dr. Mirko Kovac and a small team at Imperial College, initially designed the drones so that bridge work could be done without direct human intervention. This was developed in aims of protecting human life from this type of dangerous work, but the drones eventually grew into an all-purpose human safety device that could be deployed during emergencies that are threatening the health and safety of the general public.
In recent video demonstrations shown across media outlets in the United Kingdom, a drone with four rotors known as a quadcopter was seen printing a foam substance onto a demonstration block before flying away. This was complimented by a hexacopter, or a drone with six rotors, being able to lift the substance away from the surface and transport it to a safer location elsewhere. Researchers believe this sort of process will help protect the public from hazardous materials and waste, particularly nuclear waste in the event of a widespread catastrophe.
The mission statement behind the project states that the applications of these drones include preliminary constructions of first response structures in the event of disasters and to carry out search and rescue operations. They’re also thought to be useful in printing structures that will help bridge gaps in objects that aren’t congruent.
What the Future Holds
The true potential for these devices lies somewhere in their ability to repair bridges and other structures that are difficult to access without endangering human life. However, the ability to help protect the public from nuclear waste is something that can’t be understated. While this project in its earliest stages of development, the results are positive and it seems likely that this is indeed something that could be worth pursuing on a grander scale.