3D Printed Drones Can Scout Out Routes for Autonomous Cars

Mouser Electronics

Drones, autonomous cars, and 3D printing are all pretty established technologies at this point, but Local Motors has found a way to tie all three together.

The engineers worked with Grant Imahara of Mythbusters fame to create a 3D printed, autonomous car that comes with its own 3D printed drone. The self-driving software, which was provided by Mouser Electronics, allows the car to navigate by itself while the “driver” operates the drone, which sends a video feed back to the car. Using the drone, the driver will be able to scout out potential traffic jams and explore the landscape around them from a unique vantage point.

The drone was the result of a contest, and the winner, Finn Yonkers, said he invented “fly mode” because he “wanted to flip the idea of autonomy on its side.”

“So by introducing the element of flight, you are actually increasing the sensory experience of travel, giving you a viewpoint that’s out of context so you’re not really inside the vehicle anymore,” he continued. You’re outside of it, and it gives you plenty of opportunities to expand on the experience.”

The drone can also be used to play a basic augmented reality game, and feed the car information.

Are drones the peanut butter to self-driving cars’ jelly? It’s probably too soon to call, but at the very least — it’s a neat toy and welcome distraction.