Quadrocopters, when flying in formation, will either amaze or terrify--that depends on your feelings about unmanned drones and how we use them. Unlike combat drones, though, quadrocopters aren't too scary. They're much smaller and are primarily used for aerial videography or research projects rather than carrying payloads. One such research project, titled Flight Assembled Architecture, imagines another use for autonomous quadrocopters: building skyscrapers.
Smithsonian Mag writes that last year at the FRAC Centre in France, a pair of Swiss architects and an autonomous robotics expert used drones to assemble a work of art that towered upwards nearly 20 feet. Drones constructed the tower from 1500 foam blocks, spiraling upwards in a stair-step formation, spacing all of the blocks the perfect distance apart.
Impressive though it is, the statue is a far cry from a skyscraper. But the design is meant to evoke a futuristic building that would be assembled in much the same way, housing 30,000 people inside segmented apartments that look like gussied up shipping containers. Admittedly, it doesn't look like a practical design, and it's hard to picture humungous drones assembling skyscrapers with the accuracy such a huge endeavor would require.
On the other hand, as modular construction becomes more sophisticated, the idea doesn't seem impossible. China's Sky City One is mostly being pre-assembled before it climbs to 2750 feet. Could drones one day lift those modules into the sky and plop them down one after another? Flight Assembled Architecture proves that quadrocopters are up to the task--on a much smaller scale, of course.