Humans have spent thousands of years successfully constructing buildings on their own, but sometimes it’s nice to get a little help from our robotic friends. In a new exploration of digital fabrication, researchers at Swiss university ETH Zurich partnered with Gramazio Kohler Research and ERNE AG Holzbau to develop an all-in-one timber construction system run by robots.
The Spatial Timber Assemblies project, as it’s called, uses multiple robots to design, fabricate, and assemble timber frames without human touch. The system begins with predicting a beam’s load and designing its dimensions to fit into the rest of a timber structure’s layout. That information is then communicated to another robot, which grabs the beam and positions it on the CNC saw where it’s cut to dimension. The last robot then takes the cut beam and precisely places it into a timber frame.
The researchers say the Spatial Timber Assemblies robots should be able to design and build timber frames faster and more efficiently than other processes. Sound scary? Maybe a little. But the system is still in the testing phase, so don’t worry too much about robot overlords snatching up construction jobs yet (though their help may just be in demand).