Automation and technology are advancing at a rapid pace around the world. And the development is not limited to only one sector. New materials are available for the architects to choose from. These materials have properties that dramatically change the way of design and construction. They not only aid in designing a visually appealing form but also allow for flexibility in design and better structural systems.

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Robotics in architecture and construction is a relatively newer approach, but nonetheless, it is becoming popular rapidly. Automated technology is transforming the way architects approach their designs. Like the new materials and construction, technologies have become an integral part of architecture today, robotics will have an equally important role in the industry in the coming years.

Computers and computational inputs are already used in virtually every step of the building design process, from initial site analysis to construction. The BIM software has completely changed the design process. Similarly, robotics systems are flexible and allow one to solve a wide range of problems associated with architecture and construction.

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Robotic Technologies and Architecture Sheet1
BIM Software Generate Virtual Models_©pinterest.com

What are Robotic Technologies?

The robotic technologies are incredibly broad. It refers to any technology or machine or a system that performs a set of tasks that would be manually done by humans. Due to its broad range, there are numerous applications to this technology. And it is not limited to any one field.

The robots are similar to the tools. Depending on the role they are meant to fulfil they come in a wide range of shapes and sizes.

The reason that these technologies are gaining popularity rapidly is that they have a few advantages over their counterparts, humans. Along with being faster, able to work 24/7, they are more durable and can perform dangerous tasks. They can easily reach places a human cannot, and increase the ease of overall project management.

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Cranes (Robotic Arms) Aiding Construction_©dreamstime.com

Role of Robotics in Architecture

Despite being an emerging field, robotics in architecture is not an uncharted field. There are different areas where the use of robotics can be extended. These include construction, design process, interiors and furniture, landscaping, manufacturing and production, materials, methods and structural and mechanical systems. 

Robots are being used to produce accurate 3D models, both virtually as well as physically with great precision. They allow a designer to fully visualise the project before the construction. Moreover, the architect can test different materials in those models to determine their strength and flexibility. And choose the right one according to its properties and requirements.

Not only this but robots are used extensively in the manufacturing units to create parts of materials used for building construction. The cranes and long robot arms aid the on-site assembling. And drones have become a popular choice to put small pieces into place that would normally require the use of a hydraulic lift or an elaborate scaffolding.

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Robotics in Architecture and Construction

Example of Boston Dynamics:
Michael Perry of Boston Dynamic released a podcast discussing how their company is using robotics to revolutionize the construction industry. The company has been working on developing legged locomotives, a robot that can walk through an unstructured environment, and carry a heavy load of 400 pounds. The design is developed further to make it practical to use for everyday projects and be used for a wide variety of industries including the construction industry.

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Boston Dynamics Construction Robot_©globalconstructionreview.com

Example of SAM:
SAM (short for Semi-Automated Mason) is a robotic bricklayer that is designed to fulfil the repetitive task of basic bricklaying. Developed by MIT, SAM handles picking bricks up and laying them in the desired location over the mortar it applies. It is an efficient replacement for human labour. It works at the same speed as a human and improves the aesthetic quality of masonry.

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SAM_©borntoengineer.com

What is the Future?

This technology is being used not only for basic modelling, construction and assembly but also for energy efficiency by monitoring parameters like temperature and light levels in the building. Eventually, this technology is likely to play an even greater role than it does today.

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The possibilities are endless. Robotics can eventually be used to create living buildings, with real-time monitoring and control. The whole system can be developed that can respond and adapt to the surrounding environment just like a living organism would.
Another direction is a technological solution that helps us design better, even in uninhabitable environments. And come up with design ideas and solutions to complex problems.

The field of architecture has evolved with the changing world over the years. As technology advances, architecture and construction is adapting and responding to it. By opening up to new materials, construction methods and structural systems. The design is now seen and approached as a functional problem, with a rational solution. And automated technologies are aiding us in achieving these solutions faster and more efficiently.

Robotic technology in architecture has opened the door to endless possibilities for the future. The development of new technologies has shaped architecture into what we see at present and will continue to do so with time.

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References

  • Gibson, E., Block, I. and Astbury, J., 2021. Robotic construction | Dezeen. [online] Dezeen. Available at: <https://www.dezeen.com/tag/robotic-construction/> [Accessed 24 May 2021].
  • HMC Architects. 2021. Robotics in Architecture and Construction: An Industry Shift | Thought Leadership | HMC Architects. [online] Available at: <https://hmcarchitects.com/news/robotics-in-architecture-and-construction-an-industry-shift-2019-10-23/> [Accessed 24 May 2021].
  • Daas, 2021. Robotic Futures in Architecture – DesignIntelligence. [online] DesignIntelligence. Available at: <https://www.di.net/articles/robotic-futures-architecture/> [Accessed 24 May 2021].
  • ArchDaily. 2021. The New Boston Dynamics’ Spot 1.1 Revolutionizes the Construction Industry. [online] Available at: <https://www.archdaily.com/932167/the-new-boston-dynamics-spot-revolutionizes-the-construction-industry> [Accessed 24 May 2021].
  • ArchDaily. 2021. New Construction Robot Lays Bricks 3 Times as Fast as Human Workers. [online] Available at: <https://www.archdaily.com/779906/new-construction-robot-lays-bricks-3-times-as-fast-as-human-workers> [Accessed 24 May 2021].
Author

Currently, in the fourth year of B.Arch course at IIT Roorkee, Mansi Dengre is a young and passionate writer. Her area of interest lies in the softer aspects of design, the society, culture and narratives, and green architecture. Sometimes you might find her lost in books and music.

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