For anyone who is aware of some fairly recent announcements in the area of rapid-manufacturing buildings (Link), today’s news won’t be a big surprise. What might be a surprise is how quickly it’s moving along. From today’s Building Design article (Link):
Researchers in the United States are on the verge of unveiling a robot capable of building an entire house from an architect’s computer-based design.
Behrokh Khoshnevis, from the University of Southern California’s department of industrial and systems engineering, said that in just three months, years of research into “freeform” construction technology will deliver the first complete building constructed entirely by robot.
Now what makes this so incredibly cool? Well, read this excerpt:
The US team has already built a wall using a machine which extrudes cement which is then reinforced with reinforcement bar.
“From a purely aesthetic point of view, you can have any design you want [with this technology],” said Rupert Soar, leader of the Loughborough research team. “You could scan in Anne Hathaway’s cottage and have it yourself. The sky’s the limit.”
Tell me this isn’t the coolest thing going. Imagine the possibilities. Imagine designing a small swarm of these robots and a “queen” material conversion unit that supplies them using whatever is available in a particular geographical region; robotic termites. We might even be able to recycle waste products into home-building materials this way; converted through some white biotechnology (assuming we could properly test and regulate it).
This could lead to homes for the homeless. And you could have everyone participating in a solution. Imagine people collaborating in online spaces – even virtual spaces like Second Life or videogames – to develop housing solutions which could then be fabricated at low cost.
This is amazing stuff. The biggest hurdle will probably be the politics, the corruption and people playing selfish games. There’s a good one.