Posts tagged with "robotic construction":

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Gramazio Kohler Research wants to build the future using robots

The buildings of the future—if the team at Gramazio Kohler Research (GKR) has its way—will be built by robots. Not just one type of robot but many different kinds, each programmed to perform a different type of work, with a different type of material, and as a result, generate a different type of structure. The researchers—led by professors Fabio Gramazio and Matthias Kohler of ETH Zurich—are moved, according to the lab’s mission statement, to “examine the changes in architectural production requirements that result from introducing digital manufacturing techniques.” This research-and-development effort focuses on anticipating and ultimately generating the construction processes of our robot-filled future through interdisciplinary collaboration. GKR’s experiments are part of an effort by the so-called ETH Domain—a research network of universities including ETH Zurich and other independent research institutions based in Switzerland—to prototype and develop new technologies using a research-centered approach. The research lab’s recent efforts have been put toward developing the so-called DFAB house, a project undertaken by eight ETH Zurich research professors that aims to construct the first-ever digitally planned, designed, and constructed structure. The project will test several of GKR’s research endeavors at full scale, in concert with the other teams’ research, and is expected to be completed in 2018. Jammed Architectural Structures Rock Print is a robotically constructed architectural installation built from “low-grade granular material,” a focus of the lab’s research into jammed architectural structures erected in nonstandard shapes. The initiative focuses on the robotic aggregation of small rocks that are “quite literally crammed together in such a way that the mass holds its form and shape like a solid,” according to the project website. To produce the installation, a robotic arm drizzles an adhesive polymer thread over alternating layers of rocks that ultimately become structurally sound. The bulbous column that results can be deconstructed by pulling the thread away so that its constituent components can be reused. The technique was shown off at the 2015 Chicago Architecture Biennial as a dynamic architectural installation in partnership with the Self-Assembly Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Complex Timber Structures The team has also worked with wood construction techniques in an effort to not only cut down on wood waste but also find useful applications for Switzerland’s abundant softwood resources. The Complex Timber Structures experiment grafts together precisely cut lengths of wood using a variety of joinery techniques—including glue-impregnation—to create tessellated, geometric forms. The three-dimensional truss structures link together to create comparatively strong arrangements that are also lightweight in nature. The project was developed as part of the SNSF National Research Programme in collaboration with the Bern University of Applied Sciences Architecture, Wood and Civil Engineering. Mesh Mold Metal In conjunction with the Agile & Dexterous Robotics Lab of Professor Jonas Buchlihas, the research team has also tackled automated construction of doubly curved reinforced concrete walls with its Mesh Mold Metal project. The technique utilizes a robotic arm to splice and spot-weld quarter-inch-thick gridded rebar segments into place to create a rigid cage that can then be filled with concrete. The robot’s human assistant loads the rebar into the robot’s capable arms and applies the concrete by hand while the machine stipples the bits of metal together. The resulting S-shaped wall is finished with shotcrete for a smooth surface. On-Site Robotic Construction Rather than crafting meticulously curved walls, the On-Site Robotic Construction technique attempts to automate “nonstandard construction tasks” like stacking bricks in uneven arrangements. Researchers devised a robotic arm that utilizes a collection of cameras to examine and manipulate nonstandard arrangements of objects that are then moved into new configurations. The “adaptive building” technique was developed as part of Switzerland’s National Competence Centre of Research Digital Fabrication initiative.
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MARS Pavilion experiments with robotic construction

How do two young designers get to participate in an invite-only robotics conference in Palm Springs, California, organized by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos? First, you have to be creative; second, you have to get your work online, and finally, you have to be lucky. Joseph Sarafian and Ron Culver, AIA were classmates at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Graduate School of Architecture and Urban Design in Greg Lynn’s studio. They were exploring how to use digital design to create unique components that could be fabricated using state-of-the-art industrial robotics, the kind of robots that build cars. They developed a system that allowed the designers to go directly from a digital image to physical reality. Their prototype eventually found its way onto the internet. Then, according to Sarafian, “We got an email from Amazon’s team out of the blue, after seeing our robotic concrete research 'Fabric Forms’ on blogs and websites.” They were invited to attend what Amazon calls their MARS Conference (Machine learning, Automation, Robotics, Space exploration). Like a private TED Conference, the MARS Conference brings together business leaders, academics and others pushing the envelope of technology.  

The resulting MARS Pavilion prototype—including an exhibition and video of the design process—is currently on view at the A+D Architecture and Design Museum in the Los Angeles Arts District.  The pavilion will be up through Saturday, October 7 and has been sponsored by CTS Cement and Helix Steel.

Besides acquiring The Washington Post and Whole Foods, Jeff Bezos owns Blue Origin, a space exploration company that is intended to compete with Elon Musk’s SpaceX. The Blue Origin company motto is “Gradatim Ferociter,” Latin for “Step by Step, Ferociously.” This motto might also apply to the work of Sarafian and Culver. The MARS Pavilion by their firm Form Found Design (FFD) is the first robotically-cast concrete pavilion in the world. While it is intriguing to look at, what is more important than its image is its method of design and construction. The MARS Pavilion consists of 70 unique, robotically-cast “wishbone” shaped components that are all bolted together with an identical steel connection detail.  Using the robotic precision of large ABB industrial robots, they achieved a tolerance of 1/16 inch. This is extraordinary in concrete construction, where the usual level of tolerance is ¼ inch—It’s an improvement of 400%. All the MARS Pavilion forms are derived from concrete’s most inherent quality, compression. Walter P. Moore performed a structural engineering analysis and recommended one-inch "Helix Steel" twisted fibers for reinforcement rather than traditional re-bar. This provides greater flexibility. The goal is to allow for the precision fabrication of a wide range of design components at low cost. Ron Culver described their approach as “a true digital workflow where previously unbuildable complex geometry is now feasible.” In downtown Los Angeles, for example, Diller Scofidio + Renfro designed the Broad Museum proposing many unique concrete forms. Due to cost constraints, the design had to be simplified so that only the oculus (a curved opening at the front of the building) survived the value engineering and cost-cutting process. FFD believe their approach will allow design variation in concrete with no additional cost. FFD envisions many future applications including creating economical housing solutions for developing nations. Sarafian explained, “We are interested in exploring this fabrication technique to create an easy-to-assemble housing prototype for developing countries.” The MARS Pavilion installation is on view through October 7th at the A+D Architecture and Design Museum, 900 E 4th St, Los Angeles, CA 90013, tickets are available for the closing reception here. You can follow Follow their FFD's work on Instagram @formfound_design