College In London To Build $2 Million Flying Robot Lab

What is this, a school for drones?

Aerial Robotics Lab Concept Art
Aerial Robotics Lab Concept Art
Imperial College of London

In early 2016, the Imperial College of London will begin construction on a school for the future. The academy's attending students? Drones. After careful assembly by engineers, the school's robots will fly and swim while 16 high speed 3-D cameras track their movements in the air and a further eight watch their actions underwater.

Funded by a donation from Imperial College alumnus and private equity CEO Brahmal Vasudevan, the Aerial Robotics Lab might just shape the future of flying and swimming hybrid robots. From the Imperial College:

The Brahmal Vasudevan Aerial Robotics Lab will consist of a two story laboratory and workshop, hosted by the City and Guilds building, on its roof. It will have teaching facilities for undergraduates and postgraduates, housing a workshop for manufacturing aerial robots and an enclosed arena for safely carrying out test flights. It will also be one of only a handful of facilities in the world that will be able to test hybrid aerial robots that can fly and then dive into water, which could be beneficial in the future for search and rescue missions.

Including a pool to test drones in water is an excellent addition, not just for an island nation like the United Kingdom, but for the overall future of drones. The Iranian-designed Pars lifeguard drone is one that works on the edge of land and sea, and with the company's relocation to London they could certainly take advantage of a dual testing facility. While a full production version of the floating, sonar-carrying Pescadaero might not fit in the Imperial College's new lab, the concept could be tested there in miniature form. Plus, simply having the facilities available means future drone designers aren't trapped into thinking of drones as only land or air or sea creatures.

With enough creativity, hybrid rescue robot concepts like this snakebot-quadcopter fusion might even add a fish-like component to their Voltron'd super-organism.