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By targeting where that foam goes, it can build up simple structures, essentially becoming a flying 3D printer. The technology could have some very important applications.
Developed mainly by Graham Hunt and other members of a team led by Dr. Mirko Kovac, the robot's platform is made from inexpensive 3D-printed components and carbon fiber supports. It has two canisters containing separate liquid chemicals on its underside. When those chemicals mix together as they pass through its extrusion nozzle, a chemical reaction occurs and they turn to foam.
In its current form, the aircraft uses GPS and an external system of 16 infrared cameras to identify targets upon which to spray the foam, within an indoor lab. That sensor data is transmitted to a nearby laptop computer, that is able to compensate for the constantly-changing angle and mass of the copter's printing payload. Based on that processed data, the computer relays flight and extrusion commands back to the robot.
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