Robotic aircraft will be easier to manufacture than before. Researchers at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (MIT CSAIL) have developed a system called LaserFactory, which makes it easier than ever to build unmanned aerial vehicles. The new solution combines modular design software with state-of-the-art manufacturing technologies. While the latter allow for the quick creation of a variety of simpler objects, it does not yet allow for the creation of more sophisticated tools that work. The new development has taken a serious step in this direction.
Martin Nesser, a PhD student at the lab, said LaserFactory is the first system to integrate a variety of capabilities using manufacturing platforms such as 3D printing and laser cutters. In addition, LaserFactory automates the production of workable devices as a whole process. In the related software, the user can specify what his drone should look like, such as a quadrocopter, and which modular components the system should manufacture for it. With the new development, it may become practically possible to manufacture robotic aircraft on site. Researchers want to further refine the process in the near future and also want to integrate support for newer 3D shapes into the solution to create more complex unmanned aerial vehicles.