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Researchers Found a Good Reason to Attach a Nail Gun to a Flying Drone [2/2] - drone nail gun.JPG (1/1)
Last month the Federal Aviation Administration issued a warning against
attaching weapons to drones, but researchers at the University of Michigan have
come up with a strong case in favor of strapping a nail gun to an autonomous
flying robot, and it has nothing to do with cartoonish hijinx.
Prototypes of drones delivering packages have been demonstrated time and time
again, but to date, autonomous multi-rotor aircraft have been limited to
carrying out inspections of structures that can be very dangerous for humans to
climb, like bridges and wind turbines, or other reconnaissance applications.
Researchers at the University of Michigan believe thereís far more potential for
them, including taking over more hands-on jobs that can be potentially just as
dangerous for humans.
Thatís why the research team strapped a professional-grade nail gun to an
octocopter. Itís capable of autonomously flying the nailer to the roof of a
home, and then automatically securing asphalt shingles using a system of
location markers and video cameras to know exactly where to drive each and every
nail. Itís nowhere near as fast as a professional roofer is at the task in its
current form, but the team is already working on ways to speed up its
performance while maintaining accuracy.
But speed isnít necessarily the primary reason for replacing humans with drones
for jobs like this. Climbing up onto a roof to install shingles is a dangerous
task, and having to haul a heavy automatic nail gun up with you definitely
doesnít make it any safer. Eventually, a swarm of drones could be deployed on a
new house, laying shingles and nailing them into place, and they could quickly
move from house to house in a new neighborhood to streamline at least part of
the long construction process.
That would also require the researchers to find a way around this prototype
droneís very limited 10 minutes of flight time. But a cable tethering it to a
generator on the ground could deliver both the necessary power for unlimited
flight times and compressed air to improve the performance of the nail gun as
these drones wouldnít need to travel tens of miles on their own. In this case,
extra wires would be a good thing.
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