British Navy warship launches first 3D-printed drone

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On Tuesday this week, the Royal Navy ship HMS Mersey launched something unusual from its gun deck off England’s southern coast — a cheap drone made using a 3D printer.

The three-kilogram craft with an airplane-style design was launched by a three-meter catapult and autonomously flew between a few preprogrammed waypoints for five minutes before being piloted to a safe belly landing on a pebbly beach.

The cheap drone had been printed on shore and then assembled on the ship. The test was meant to demonstrate how more-or-less disposable drones that could, in a pinch, be printed onboard might cut costs and let a crew adapt quickly to a new mission, for example after a natural disaster. Making plastic drones for Navy ships using conventional mass production techniques doesn’t offer such flexibility and is also more expensive because the numbers needed aren’t large enough to offset setup costs, says Geoff Hayward, UAV desk officer at the Maritime Warfare Centre, who was onboard HMS Merseyto oversee the flight. …

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Via: Mashable: Dev & Design

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