3D printer creates unmanned airbourne vehicle

July 25, 2012 by  

A group of people at the University of Southampton has used a 3D printer to create a vehicle that can move without a driver.

The unmanned aerial vehicle has been developed by a team made up of both staff and students and is designed to be controlled remotely from the ground. This makes it useful for anyone wishing to do things like shooting footage from the air. The craft is able to fly for up to two hours and can reach speeds of over 40 mph. The main parts of the plane were created using innovative 3D printing.

While 3D printing is in its infancy, there is still a large amount of demand for traditional full colour printing in Southampton. 3D printing is creating a media buzz at the moment, but it will be a while before this new technology becomes mainstream. In the meantime, the printing needs of local businesses and organisations are taken care of by local print companies.

Southampton-based researchers created the unmanned aerial vehicle using 3D printing technologies, and then ran a competition in conjunction with popular children’s television show Blue Peter, in which entrants could win the chance to name the vehicle and design its livery. The winner was 11-year old Izzy Bennett from Exeter, who named the vehicle the iFlyer.

The unmanned aerial vehicle will be used by the BBC, alongside a new breed of filming technology which will allow the BBC to capture aerial footage of sporting and news events without the need to use traditional planes and helicopters.