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Watch as a trio of flying drones build a working rope bridge

by Mark Tyson on 21 September 2015, 14:31

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Flying drones seem to be increasingly popular. The pricing for these technology-packed flying gadgets has fallen to the level where tech fans might even buy one on impulse. Drones have also been in the news quite a bit over recent months; as possible delivery methods for retailers, and as targets for shotgunners and lasers. But what is the point of owning such a device other than for a few aerial photos/selfies and cat scaring?

Researchers at ETH Zurich have found new a practical use for drones – in making rope bridges. As you can see in the video embedded below, a trio of drones were equipped with rope spools before setting off on their tasks of constructing a rope bridge. The demonstration is part of a study into the construction of structures using flying machines. The video is sped up, as the construction took just under an hour.

The bridge spanned 7.4 metres between two sets of scaffolding. 120 metres of rope was used by the quadracopter constructors and the bridge was made out of nine rope segments. The drones controlled the rope tension and could fabricate knots, links and braids. We are told that the rope was made out of Dyneema which weighs just 7g per metre. In 4mm rope/thread thicknesses Dyneema can support up to 1300Kg.

In the video demonstration the drones were aided in their agile airborne navigation by the deployment of a motion capture system around the scaffolding. The scaffolding dimensions were also pre-measured for the drone navigation computations. So while this is an interesting demonstration to watch, setting up a new bridge 'in the wild' would probably be beyond the drone trio's abilities for now. This research into aerial construction with drones started in July 2012 and is ongoing.

HEXUS Forums :: 3 Comments

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I would have been more impressed if they didn't have to use scaffolding to build the rope bridge.
I think they might have problems doing it with a strong wind when the drones/programmers wouldn't be too sure where the ropes would be.
You could easily used one to pull a starter rope across a wide expanse then use that to pull a bigger one across that you could rappel across with. Or pulling ropes part obstacles you can't climb round/over. Still cool