Robots and Construction

Robotic control and fabrication is the next technological frontier of design and construction. The use of industrial robots in construction is creating a new field of research where architectural design, environmental sustainability, construction and digital fabrication merge. Potential applications for robotic fabrication in construction are vast, but many possibilities yet remain to be explored. Robotic design and fabrication are likely to have a downstream effect on the entire project supply chain from concept design to delivery and operation. The integration of sensing technologies, 3D scanning and automated fabrication allow teams to expand their design, manufacture and assembly capabilities. In addition to these benefits, they will allow various stakeholders through the supply chain to make more informed decisions about the solutions they are proposing.

Therefore this research  aims to construct and test a prototype supply chain that integrates environmental sensing with robotic fabrication. The project if funded was intended to explore a broad range of design and construction issues:

  • To understand the limitations and possibilities of distributed robotics as it applies to construction supply chains.
  • Explore how new open source technologies such as Arduino and associated microprocessors can be used to assess existing buildings.
  • To understand how sense data gathered via Arduino technology can be used in decision support environments related to architectural design and construction robotics.
  • Begin to establish both the technological limits of and the innovation potential of robotics in construction supply chains.
  • Examine how industrial robots may be used in construction supply chains in conjunction with distributed robotic technologies such as sensing and scanning.
  • Using one case study the project will identify and diagram the IT architecture, IT infrastructure and workflows related to a robot-intensive design and construction chain.
  • Compare and then identify any evident interdependencies between robotic fabrication and collaboration models in design and construction projects.
  • Establish how robotic fabrication might shift risk allocation in comparison to existing forms of design and construction procurement.
  • Identify the potential cost and benefits of robotic fabrication methods across architecture, engineering, contracting, project management, and construction management.
  • Examine and quantify the cost benefits, savings and implications of robotic fabrication for different stakeholders in the procurement chain.