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Flying 3D Printer Drones Can Help Dispose of Nuclear Waste

When I was six years old, I had a nightmare that I was trapped in a haunted mansion filled with monstrous flying suitcases. While the travel cases with wings were a product of an overactive imagination, imagine my surprise when, years later, I stumble upon an equally bizarre invention: a flying 3D printer drone built to help safely dispose of nuclear waste. Just when I’m coming to terms with the fact that 3D printers actually exist, they go and invent one that flies. That’s right, folks, we got a flying 3D printer drone before we got proper flying cars (the so-called “flying cars” of today are just small airplanes with four wheels).

Flying 3D Printers

Imperial college London engineers invented the flying 3D printers (lol) and first demonstrated them a couple of weeks ago at London’s Imperial Festival. The project was led by the director of the aerial robotics laboratory at Imperial College London, Dr. Mirko Kovac. His team’s creations are built like miniature helicopters, except with four to six propellers and the fancier names of quadcopter and hexacopter, respectively.

The flying monkeys printers are designed to work as a team of two to help safely deal with nuclear waste. The quadcopter prints sticky foam made out of polyurethane that helps contain the hazardous material. The hexacopter then lands on the waste, allowing the foam to set and fuse them together, and flies away up to 2.5 kilograms at a time to be properly disposed. There’s no need to worry about human error, because the flying printer (lol) works mostly autonomously by using GPS to locate programmed coordinates. Just another step in the robot takeover of mankind.

Where did engineers come up with this brilliant idea? Bird spit. Obviously. In the long and lofty tradition of using the beautiful and economical structures of nature to influence technology, the developers gained inspiration from studying swiftlets, birds native to South-East Asia, and their unusual habit of building nests out of their own saliva. As the technology advances, engineers intend to program the drones to create nests of sorts in trees where they can rest and recharge using solar panels. The more advanced drones will also be larger and able to carry up to 40 kilograms of waste at a time using fuel cells rather than smaller batteries.

You can check out the flying printer (lol) in action below.