3d printer drone featured Photo: Gensler/Vimeo

We know drones are increasingly being used by the real estate industry as a video marketing tool, but do unmanned air vehicles have the potential to change the development landscape from a construction standpoint?

Design firm Gensler is in the midst of a years-long project to develop a flying 3D printer capable of creating objects in hard to reach places, like, for example, building sites.

The idea behind the concept — which the company calls the Mobile Unmanned Printing Platform (MUPP) — is that a printer capable of moving up and down and side to side would remove the X-Y-Z axis constraints that existing, stationary 3D printers have.

“By undertaking this project, we are laying the foundations for the creation of technology capable of making anything of any size, anywhere,” Gensler explains on its website.

The company says 3D printing drones could be a boon for the construction industry.

“MUPPs could be teamed together to form the basis of an autonomous workforce in commercial construction, combining the layout and construction of building elements in-place by a fleet of intelligent devices,” the company writes.

Of course this isn’t the first time 3D printers have be hailed as future saviors of the construction industry. In a 2013 TED Talk, University of Southern California engineering professor Behrokh Khoshnevis explained how 3D printers are capable of building a 2,500-square-foot building in just 20 hours for a fraction of the cost of conventional construction methods.

But, like MUPP, the cheap 3D printed house is a concept that’s still under development. On that note, here’s the MUPP prototype, “MUPPete,” in action.

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