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Armies will be able to 'grow', drones in a lab in future: BAE Systems

05 July 2016

Armies, in future, will be able to grow their own unmanned aircraft in the field to be able to respond quickly to threats  according to the British defence firm BAE Systems' future vision.

The company has described its plans for a radical new concept for developing new prototypes of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

The Chemputer, as its developers describe the concept, could provide a significant advantage by cutting production times from years to only a matter of weeks.

According to the firm, the production process could potentially cut down the time it took to develop novel unmanned vehicles to a matter of weeks.

The firm said, advanced chemical engineering processes would see the production of small scale UAVs in vats, which could rapidly speed up the time it took for components to form.

In an animation, of the Chemputer vats of blue liquid are shown in which parts are grown from crude materials, before the finished product, a complex drone emerges at the end of the cycle on a production line.

While The Chemputer is still in the concept phase, BAE has roped in researchers at the University of Glasgow to develop the design, headed by professor Lee Cronin, from the university's school of chemistry.

According to a press release by BAE Systems such drones would be able to fly at speeds and altitudes that would allow them to outpace missiles, and also take part in rapid response missions. The same technology could also be used for making parts of larger vehicles.

"This is a very exciting time in the development of chemistry," said Cronin. "We have been developing routes to digitize synthetic and materials chemistry and at some point in the future hope to assemble complex objects in a machine from the bottom up, or with minimal human assistance."

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