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During situations such as disaster response, such as flooding or landslides, there is at times need for temporary structures such as bridges and landing platforms so that heavy machinery may  reach an area to provide assistance.

How to create that platform in a tricky situation in a way that minimises further risk to human life?

A modular drone that can form a larger structure with other drones in mid air has been created by scientists at the school of Engineering and Applied Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania that may address this need.

In a video published on YouTube by Vijay Kumar Lab, two drones are shown encased in a box shaped frame as they fly towards each other in a three-dimensional environment. Each module consists of a quadrotor platform and a docking method that allows the pair of structures to self-assemble in mid air.

Created in partnership with researchers from the Modular Robotics Lab of University of Pennsylvania, a paper titled “A Decentralized Algorithm for Assembling Structures with Modular Robots” discusses a system that mimics the construction techniques of ants. When ants build a nest they build temporary bridges to join areas so that they may transport supplies to otherwise inaccessible areas.

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Category: Science