Quadcopter Fleet Builds the Leaning Tower of Styrofoam

What's six meters tall, composed of 1,500 individual bricks and assembled with nary a human hand? This new art installation in Orléans, France—it's the handiwork of an industrious swarm of airborne robots.

The 20-foot tall, 11-foot wide "Flight Assembled Architecture" is currently being assembled from 1,500 Styrofoam blocks at the FRAC Centre in Orléans. The installation occupies a 33-foot cubed area and may employ as many as 50 quadcopter drones. The project is a collaboration between Swiss architectural firm Gramazio & Kohler and Raffaello D'Andrea.

An array of motion capture sensors will track each drone in the airspace at 370 fps and feed that information to a precision fleet management program that issues instructions and hopefully prevent the drones from smashing into one another. The drones will also be able to coordinate their efforts independently with millimeter precision, lifting the individual blocks onto the growing tower, thanks to a suite of on-board sensors. Check out the pre-build test flights below—it's spectacular, like a midair robot ballet or at least a live-action version of Batteries Not Included. The installation itself will be open from December 2nd to February 9th, 2012. [Gizmag via Popular Science]


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