Between delivering packages and even successfully catching fish, it seems as though there is little that drones – or quadrocopters – can’t do these days. But what about building a bridge that can support two humans…autonomously?

In a new video YouTube video uploaded by programmer Federico Augugliaro, two drones use a high-precision motion capture system, a wireless communication network, and custom software executing sophisticated algorithms for estimation and control to build a rope footbridge without the aide of humans.

The experiment, which is just one of many performed by Augugliaro and a team of researchers at the Institute for Dynamic Systems and Control and Gramazio Kohler Research at ETH Zurich in Switzerland, is part of a larger body of research in aerial construction – field that “addresses the construction of structures with the aid of flying machines”:

YouTube video

“Spanning 7.4 m between two scaffolding structures, the bridge consists of nine rope segments for a total rope length of about 120 m and is composed of different elements, such as knots, links, and braids,” explains Augugliaro. “The rope used for these experiments is made out of Dyneema, a material with a low weight-to-strength ratio and thus suitable for aerial construction. Of little weight (7 g per meter), a 4 mm diameter rope can sustain 1300 kg.”

In order for the flying vehicles to feed the rope as they need it without getting tangled, they are each equipped with a spool that allows them to control the tension of the rope while deploying it.

Find out more about the ongoing efforts behind aerial construction from Augugliaro and his research team over at ETH Zurich.


Simon is a Brooklyn-based industrial designer and Managing Editor of EVD Media. When he finds the time to design, his focus is on helping startups develop branding and design solutions to realize their product design vision. In addition to his work at Nike and various other clients, he is the main reason anything gets done at EvD Media. He once wrestled an Alaskan alligator buzzard to the ground with his bare hands… to rescue Josh.