Imperial College London is to build a $2m laboratory to study unmanned vehicle flight at its campus in South Kensington.Â Â
The Brahmal Vasudevan Aerial Robotics Lab will consist of a two-storey research centre complete with teaching facilities for undergraduates and postgraduates, a workshop for making the drones and an enclosed arena for carrying out test flights.Â Â
It will also be able to test hybrid aerial robots, which can operate in the air and underwater.Â
Mirko Kovac, the director of the lab, is currently researching two types of drone: aerial robots that aid the repair of infrastructure, including a flying 3D printer that is currently on show in the nearby Science Museum, and aerial-aquatic robots, which could be used for search and rescue operations at sea.Â
He said: "Aerial robotics has the potential to become an important industry in the UK, but we need world-beating teaching and research infrastructure to make this a reality."Â
Professor Jeff Magee, the dean of Imperial’s Faculty of Engineering, said: "The Lab will be a focal point for our aerial robotics research and education activities. We also want this facility to a place for prospective students and school children to visit, inspiring them to become future aeronautical engineers."Â
Mr Brahmal Vasudevan, a Malaysian financier who studied aeronautical engineering at Imperial, put up the money for the project. Construction of the lab is due to start in 2016.
(Corrected 10 November; we initially reported the cost to be $2bn.)