The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is constantly researching ways to improve construction process and materials, like this material 10 times the strength of steel, or this solar cell that’s lighter than a soap bubble, or this “reversible concrete.” This time the Institute is showing off its autonomous robot that can spit out building structures on site within hours.
This robotic arm concept, which you see in the video at the bottom of this article, has a lot of the same characteristics as the Russian Apis Cor robotic arm 3D printer that recently completed the structure of a concrete house in less than 24 hours. Both robots are mobile, allowing them to visit any job site, and they’re also adaptable to the specific site conditions.
The thing that sets the MIT robot apart from the Apis Cor version is that MIT’s is being designed to be completely self-sufficient, as it even has an excavator bucket attached to it in order to obtain local materials. It also can be powered by the on-board solar panels, so no need to plug it in in certain circumstances.
Like many 3D printing companies today, this is only a proof of concept and the next step is widely expected to be disaster relief, where labor and materials are hard to come by. The idea of providing adequate shelter in times of need in less than 24 hours is certainly an exciting concept. Stephen Keating, PhD, one of the researchers on this project, has his sights set on different planets, as well. “In the future, to have something totally autonomous, that you could send to the moon or Mars or Antarctica, and it would just go out and make these buildings for years,” Keating told MIT News.
The video below shows a foam insulation being placed as a concrete form, but the printing nozzles are able to be swapped out based upon the material being used. Built-in sensors can allow the robot to make on-site adjustments with respect to temperature and light, as well.
Full Story: 3-D printing offers new approach to making buildings | MIT News