Building with Drones
This project aims to test a new outdoor construction technique for cable-beam and tensile structures. It takes advantage of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), commonly known as drones, to erect large-span structures with no need of temporary scaffolds.
In a first phase (late 2015), a drone capable to carry heavy loads was built, calibrated, tuned and tested. Refer to this link to watch a short time-lapse video of the assembly process: http://vimeo.com/153167682. The drone components, which are listed in the video and include a ground station and a differential GPS, that were selected to improve the standard UAV positioning system precision in outdoor applications.
In parallel to this first research phase (Semester 2-2015), Coralie Ming, a former Master’s student of the MSD, developed a thesis entitled: “Building with drones: outdoor experiments on lightweight structures”. In her work, she used a commercial Dji Phantom 3 drone, to verify the vehicle precision and capabilities of being applied to the construction of simple cable-beam structures. A short video of Coralie’s findings can be watched at this link (coming soon).
The Bachelor of Environments students have also worked in Semester 1-2016 on finding design applications for drone construction. “Studio Air” focused on the capabilities of drone technologies through simulation where the students explored outcomes generated by algorithmic design using Grasshopper for Rhinoceros. A custom drone simulator was developed to mimic the capabilities of the drone in order to help design development. A variety of outcomes were generated including tensile structures, additive/subtractive, onsite deployment/unfolding and interactive techniques. The work of Zhou Yuxiang and Joy Gong can be seen in this short video (coming soon) .
The second research phase, currently in progress, focuses on developing software for autonomous flight and interface between drone and commercial CAD software (Rhinoceros).
The research project is expected to be completed by the end of 2016, and it will lead to publication of the outcomes on international journals, such as “Automation in Construction” and “Journal of Architectural Computing”.
Multi-vehicle cooperation is not being tested by this project for budget and time reasons.
This project was funded via the Brookfield Multiplex Research Awards program.
Visit the following web pages to find other projects like this:
Construction design and innovation
Building with drones: experimenting a new ‘flying’ construction technique for cable-beam and tensile structures
Brookfield Multiplex Research Awards program
Associated Research Centres
Melbourne School of Engineering – Department of Mechanical Engineering
Dr Alberto Pugnale, Chief Investigator (ABP, Uni of Melb)
Dr Stanislav Roudavski (ABP, Uni of Melb)
Dr Denny Oetomo (Unimelb MSE, Mech Eng)
Julian Rutten (Unimelb MSE, Mech Eng)
Eamon Taaffe (Unimelb MSE, Mech Eng)
Alberto Pugnale (Uni of Melb)