In a new research project, called Cyber-Physical Macro Material, conducted by the University of Stuttgart, researchers have created what is known as a ‘live’ shapeshifting canopy which uses drones to keep people in the shade. As the sun moves through the sky, the drones ‘actively rebuild itself’ by changing its configuration to constantly ensure that it is providing adequate shade.
The project is focused on demonstrating ‘tangible vision of a new dynamic (and intelligent) architecture for public spaces’. This is not the first time we’ve seen drones being used in innovative ways outside the hobby and aerial photography. We’ve seen drones being used for farming, delivery and light shows but we’ve never seen how drones can be used to recreate elements of our environment and the nature surrounding us.
On this topic, Stuttgart students share on their website: “”With its ability to continuously reconstruct during use, the system challenges preconceived ideas of robotic digital fabrication and sophisticated prefabrication for architecture,” and adds that this “ physical flexibility and integrated intelligence enable, new architectural behaviours which are capable of swiftly activating public spaces in defiance of traditionally lethargic building processes and regulations.”
This new drone capability certainly disrupts traditional architectural and construction industries in a way that can develop and challenge its conventions. Drones have already been put to work in this industry, as they have been used to inspect bridges and pipelines.
Similarly, the University of Leeds are labelling themselves as a ‘self-repairing city’ by utilizing drone technology to monitor things such as potholes, street light globes and power lines that need maintenance work. The idea would be to have these drones to detect issues as soon as it appears before it gets to a point where it would need larger repair works.
While in its current research state, both systems from the University of Stuttgart and the University of Leeds, are limited, this type of ‘reconfigurable architecture’ opens up a whole new world of construction and architecture creates endless opportunities that have potential to completely reshape the urban landscape as we know it.