UK Defense Company Plans to Grow Drones in Vats of a Mysterious Chemical Substance

July 7, 2016 | Kelly Tatera

Concept art of chemputers "growing" unmanned air vehicles
Photo credit: Courtesy of BAE Systems

Parts would be constructed from the molecular level with shape-shifting chemicals. ​

With a rather sci-fi vision for the future of weapons manufacturing, a UK-based defense company, called BAE Systems, plans to grow drones in giant vats of chemical goo.

BAE has yet to release information on exactly how the process will work and which chemicals will be used, but the company says that the drone-growing will rely on a machine called the “Chemputer.”

In theory, the Chemputer would use environmentally sustainable materials to build drone parts “from a molecular level upwards” with its shape-shifting chemicals. BAE also says that drones would be grown by “speeding up evolutionary processes,” which would enable the aircrafts to be built in weeks, as opposed to the current years of construction that the process requires.

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“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,” a BAE Systems global engineering fellow, professor Nick Colosimo, said in a statement on the website.

According to the statement, the drones would be able to fly at such high speeds and altitudes that they’d be able to “outpace adversary missiles.” Further, they could take on a variety of missions that require a rapid response, like deploying emergency supplies for soldiers in enemy territory.

"The world of military and civil aircraft is constantly evolving and it's been exciting to work with scientists and engineers outside BAE Systems and to consider how some unique British technologies could tackle the military threats of the future," said Colosimo.

As of now, the idea is in the concept stages, but BAE is known for following through with its innovative ideas, such as the head-up display (HUD) used by military pilots.

The drone-growing vats of chemicals are certainly a futuristic-sounding idea, but we’re excited to see how it goes nonetheless.  

Check out the BAE Systems video below to see the concept in motion.


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