Here’s a glimpse of how construction will look in the not too distant future.
As automation continues to revolutionise factory work, you can perhaps now add builders or construction workers to the ever increasing list of occupations under threat from the latest surge in technological developments.
Researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology have designed a robot that can 3D print the basic structure of an entire building, much faster and cheaper than the construction methods used today.
Equipped with its own precision motion robotic arm, the 3D printer can be seen rolling in on tanks tracks before it gets to work on spraying an insulation foam on the ground that it then fills with concrete. The whole process to construct the building, which is 50 ft in diameter and 12 ft high, is completed in just 14 hours.
By comparison it typically takes between 7 and 9 months to construct the average modern family home.
If that wasn’t impressive enough, the team behind the 3D printer have some pretty amazing ideas on how it could be used in the future.
As well as it simply being used to build structures, the team says it will eventually be able to go to remote locations where it will be able to assess the landscape itself, before clearing the ground and preparing the area for building.
Using the information it has gathered from a particular location, the 3D printer will then create its own design for that specific location. For example, if one side of the structure is exposed to high winds, the printer may add a curved wall to improve the efficiency and strength of the building.
It could even be used to build structures that are otherwise not possible using today’s methods.
According to Steven Keating, Ph.D, who is part of the research team at MIT, the goal is for the 3D printer to become: “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.”
Of course there is some way to go before that but the current prototype shown in the video above is a first step into the future of construction – a future which is perhaps not that far away.
Accord to Keating, the prototype could be rolled out in its current form.
“We also wanted to show that we could build something tomorrow that could be used right away,” Keating said.
“With this process, we can replace one of the key parts of making a building, right now. It could be integrated into a building site tomorrow.”