• 3D Printing
  • What can be done with drones plus 3D printing?

It's not fun to drive on a pit road. In the best of circumstances, it makes your journey more bumpy and less enjoyable. In the worst case, it may cause serious damage to your vehicle and even cause serious damage to people in the car. Can cutting-edge technology help? Researchers from the United Kingdom stated that they can.

They proposed an unorthodox method to repair pits, using cameras equipped with image recognition technology to constantly scan the streets for paralysis, dispatch drones to the scene, and then use airborne 3D printers to patch pits with asphalt. It's simple, right?

The concept comes from a large multi-school project that looks at the possibility of self-repairing cities and how to use robots and other automated systems for repairs to reduce destructive road closures and other street projects.

Although using drones, image recognition, and 3D printing to accomplish a simple repair may sound a bit overdone, Phil Purnell, a professor of materials and structure at Leeds University, said that in the long run, these systems can actually save money. He said: "When you see the intervention of infrastructure - whether it is roads, pipelines, bridges - you often use a ton or meter-level solution to solve the defects starting at grams or millimeters."

Potholes mean that small dents on the road surface can quickly increase due to the weather and repeated vehicle activities. Through the use of smart technology, researchers believe that problems can be killed in the bud to avoid future incidents. So far, researchers at University College London have succeeded in producing an asphalt extruder and installing it on a hybrid air ground vehicle for transportation at the University of Leeds. It can squeeze asphalt with 1 mm accuracy.

What this work shows is a proof of concept that demonstrates how this method will be used in the future.