Can you chemically "grow" a military drone?
It sounds like an idea for a science fiction film, but here in the UK scientists and engineers are spending time and money to see if they can do exactly that.
British warplanes are already flying with parts made from a 3D printer.
Researchers are already using that same technology to build drones.
The military advantage is obvious - building equipment quickly and close to the battlefield - without long waits and long supply chains - gives you an enormous advantage over any enemy.
Chemical reactionsBut the latest innovation being developed by Prof Lee Cronin at Glasgow University takes 3D printing to another level.
With industrial advice from BAE Systems, he is developing something called a "chemputer" which, in theory, would be able to "grow" small scale unmanned aircraft, or drones in a laboratory.
While a 3D printer physically makes the parts for a machine, the "chemputer" speeds up the chemical reactions from the molecular level.
Such a breakthrough could mean it would take weeks rather than months or years to build an aircraft from scratch.
An animated video of what it might be like is almost a scene out of Star Wars "Attack of the Clones".
Prof Cronin admits that creating even small aircraft out of chemicals "would be very challenging"
Read more here: www.bbc.com/news/uk-36694899