Building Structures with a Swarm of Robots
Advances in construction automation have primarily focused on creating heavy machines to accomplish repetitive tasks. While this approach is valuable in an assembly-line context, it does not always translate well for the tight confines and dynamic nature of construction sites. To address the challenges of construction-site assembly, this project suggests an alternative technique that uses a fleet of smaller robots working collaboratively. Instead of using complex robot manipulators and simple building materials, we embed most of the complexity in the build modules. In our tests, we used cardstock that could pop-up from its 2D form into a 3D brick. Curved creases were laser-scored into the cardstock to encourage it to take a 3D form when the robots applied forces to it at certain points. The proposed method has potential advantages over large machines and simple build materials. It enables task-assignment flexibility and portability. Scaling the operation can be accomplished by adding or removing additional units as needed. The use of assembly robots also opens new horizons for design creativity, allowing architects to explore new ideas that would be unwieldy and expensive to construct using traditional techniques. Our proof-of-concept used a fleet of five Cozmo robots. Each Cozmo weighs 180 grams and has a 3D printed forklift attached to its lift. The Cozmos work collaboratively to popup-construct 3D bricks and assemble them into a chain.