Multi-Robot Systems for Self-Organized Construction

The construction industry has been slow to incorporate automation, largely due to the fact that most construction projects take place in highly uncontrolled and variable environments. While considerable efforts have been made in the area of off-site prefabrication, the focus of this research is on-site construction.

This research track combines multi-agent swarm robotics with real-time structural sensing, and focuses on decentralized robotic assembly where discrete materials are installed in a dynamically determined rather than predetermined sequence. This building strategy is contingent upon parallel, plan-free construction phasing, and requires independent robotic agents to perform real-time structural state sensing, taking actions with global consequences using only locally available information.

This research consists of a theoretical formulation of principles that yield structures that remain stable throughout their assembly sequence, resilient to changing numbers of robotic agents or environmental perturbations. These principles are explored primarily through simulation, with additional work on hardware prototypes. Fully automated systems might eventually be applicable to disaster relief or other hazardous tasks that would not be conducive for human builders. Even longer-term applications might include facilitating repetitive tasks in the commercial construction industry such as erecting temporary scaffolding, or even building full permanent structures.

 

PROJECT TEAM

Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering, Harvard University
Dr. J. Werfel (PI), P. Kassabian, N. Melenbrink

Institute for Computational Design and Construction (ICD), University of Stuttgart
Prof. A. Menges

 

PROJECT FUNDING

Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering, Harvard University