Institute for Dynamic Systems and Control

Aerial construction

Project Details


Start Date: July 2012
End Date: ongoing



Federico Augugliaro
Prof. Raffaello D'Andrea


Lead Researchers:

Federico Augugliaro
Prof. Raffaello D'Andrea


The Aerial Construction project is a collaboration between the Institute for Dynamic Systems and Control and the Chair of Architecture and Digital Fabrication. The objective is to investigate and develop methods and techniques for robotic aerial construction.


The pursuit is multidisciplinary, requiring the development of nonstandard material systems, advanced digital design and construction processes, and adaptive strategies for controlling the aerial robots as they grasp/carry payloads and cooperate in the assembly task. Because the structures produced in this framework will be less constrained by conventional assembly parameters (such as, for example, the need of scaffolding to build from the ground upward), we expect that our work will foster new forms of architecture and construction methods [1].

The research carried out at the Institute for Dynamic Systems and Control focuses on:

Building Tensile Structures with Flying Machines

Flying machines offer a number of advantages compared to traditional construction machines. Specifically, they can reach any point in space and fly in or around existing objects. However, they also have drawbacks, such as limited payload and accuracy. Tensile structures fit very well this combination of characteristics and constraints, and were subject of preliminary research [2,3]. In such structures the construction elements (such as ropes, cables, or wires) are subject to tension forces.

Quadrocopter assembling a tensile structure
Quadrocopter assembling a tensile structure

Physical Human-Quadrocopter Interaction

Aerial construction requires UAVs to physically interact with their environment. To achieve this, one possibility are hybrid force-position control strategies. These are often used in assembly tasks with robotic manipulators, such as the peg-in-hole problem. Generally speaking, force control is used whenever compliance with the environment is necessary. Furthermore, force control enables physical human-quadrocopter interaction [4]. Physical human-robot interaction has been largely treated in the context of humanoid/mobile robots, however, physical interaction between a person and a UAV has seen little research activity. Reliable and safe physical interaction with UAVs will be of great importance in real world applications, where robots will tightly cooperate with humans, such as, for example, on a construction site [5]. We use a control strategy based on admittance control that can be used for both human-vehicle interaction and force tracking and makes use of a force estimator.


Previous work: Flight Assembled Architecture

Flight Assembled Architecture, a collaboration with architects Gramazio & Kohler, is an exploration in aerial construction. Conceived as a 1:100 model of a 600 m high vertical village, the four day long, live exhibition featured four quadrocopters building a 6-meter tall tower out of 1500 foam bricks. The exhibition took place at the FRAC Centre in Orléans, France from December 1 to 4, 2011. The FRAC Centre is an architectural art museum in the outskirts of Paris that promotes contemporary art, both nationally and internationally. During the opening night the museum hosted 300 enthusiastic people.
Additional information about the project


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