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Yishu Zeng

Technology, Construction - 6 min read

The 10 Most Sophisticated Construction Robots

Jason Hook

Head of Sales and Marketing

Dec 20, 2016 5:12:00 PM

The construction industry is changing. Despite a booming building market, there’s a significantly ageing population. This is putting increased pressure on labour, requiring more assistance from machines to get work done.

Below we dive into the 10 most sophisticated construction robots and explore how they’re changing the industry as we know it today.


1. Granular Systems 

Researchers and students from the University of Stuttgart used a robot to design and place over 30,000 “spiky” granules to form a synthetic structure. Based on Distinct-Element Modelling (DEM) technology, the ICD Aggregate Pavilion 2015 is the first project of its kind and shows the potential for freestanding buildings to be created from synthetic particles and assembled by robots based on programmable properties. They are made from recycled plastics and don’t require additional formwork to be layered and hold vertical shapes.


2. Carbon-fibre Creations

Also at the University of Stuttgart, researchers created robotic technology to construct a carbon-fibre pavilion in the shape of a beetle shell. The highly complicated and intricate design was brought to life through the advanced technology which allowed them to fabricate a process for modular and double-layered composite structures, significantly reducing formwork and weight, increasing the opportunity for creative freedom.


3. Drone Labour

In 2012, Swiss architecture firm Gramazio Kohler Architects collaborated with roboticist Raffaello D’Andrea and ETH Zurich to program a fleet of drones to lift and stack thousands of polystyrene bricks at the FRAC Centre in Orleans, France. The tower was six-metres-tall and built from 1,5000 elements. Polystyrene was used so that the drones could easily lift the bricks, but the success shows how more advanced drones could provide significantly construction assistance in the future.

Tender tips, marketing tips, technology for builders. 

4. Stone Spraying Robots 

Students and researchers at Barcelona’s Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia have created a robotic 3D printer which can build structures from sand and soil. The robot works by spraying grains of sand or soil out of one nozzle and glue out of another. They mix at impact and solidify. This allows for the building of multi-directional vertical structures at angles previously thought impossible. The inventors, Anna Kulik, Inder Shergill and Petr Novikov, suggest that the technology could be used to build temporary canopies or bridges.


5. RhinoVAULT 

Still in Europe, Rotterdam-based Studio RAP produced RhinoVAULT, a plug-in for the 3D modelling program Rhino. This allowed them to create an efficient wooden structure from 225 unique wooden panels, which were robotically milled before being assembled. And all of this was possible from inside of a repurposed factory. 


6. Arc Welding Robots 

Arc welding robots are flexible machines which weld according to pre-programmed specifications. They can be used in a number of positions and significantly improve on-site productivity, as well as your carbon footprint.


7. Material Handling Robots

These robots can alleviate the tedious and often unsafe tasks on-site. They have a range of applications and can be used in many different industries with minor adjustments for different projects.


8. Machine Loading Robots

Machine loading robots increase production speeds and protect workers from injury. They can easily pick up and place heavy objects and work in conjunction with your other machinery. They also have impressive dexterity to handle parts with care.


9. Palletising Robots

As you know, the materials you need for your project don’t just magically appear on-site. There’s a lot of work that goes into the unloading and palletising of goods from the points of export, import and delivery to your site. These robots do the hard work for you, with arms to lift and grip bags, pallets and crates, ensuring your materials are handled safely so that they can be delivered in one piece.


10. Assembly Robots 

Assembly robots help put together different parts of your materials. This technology can be highly useful on larger and more complex sites, particularly alleviating dull manual labour. Further, you’ll find it a vital asset to your company as it saves valuable time, while improving accuracy and efficiency.

Robots are becoming increasingly prevalent on construction sites as they continue to advance and increase in capabilities. Research what’s available and be sure to be an active part of this change, not watching from the sidelines.

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