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09 Feb, 2012

Future of building, smart construction, robots, quadrotors, technology and architecture

Posted by: Geoff Davis In: architects|architecture|building|Building materials|Buildings|Computers|construcción|Hardware|SF|software|Vehicles

This is a very interesting video of flying robots building a tower out of preformed parts. Here, the parts are laid out and the robots fly off and build as fast and efficiently as they can.

In the real world, this method of construction is standard in large structures, where precast and manufactured walls, beams, girders, floors, etc. and assembled on-site by teams of builders, using cranes, and the usual range of plant.

The quadrotors (four motor copters) here have very good agility and are not individually controlled by a humans. The actions are loaded in during set-up (or even downloaded as sets or routines like ‘building’, ‘surveillance’ etc – which can be done in-flight) , and then overall instructions are given – build such and such at this location – and the teams of robots will methodically do it, even planning their routes and wait times to the most efficiency.

As such in the future, these type of devices could be used for all sorts of actions, in much the same way that computers are now. This is another aspect of embedded computing, such as smart phones, smart clothes, smart buildings, and (here) smart construction.

But don’t ask about energy efficiency. In the East, construction is done with thousands – millions? – of cheap immigrant labour, so that is hard to undercut in any scenario. Except military.

These experimental quadrotors are limited by battery time. In-flight refuelling is possible from larger quadrotors, or normal aircraft, or dirigibles. Or even orbital solar arrays with microwave energy beamed to the craft. But that is a different area. Possibly SF.


This might have military applications in building defences ahead of troop movements. But of course future war scenarios are impossible to guess.

This type of technology was in the film Terminator 3 – where the new military jets become sentient. That is not going to happen as the devices are rule based, and human controlled.

Note that this type of autonomous behaviour in robots is not artificial intelligence in the sense of consciousness. They are still operating under a set of programming rules. Any learnt aspects such as building, obstacle or aircraft avoidance, which look ‘intelligent’ are programmed at the start. Basically it is a set of clever and adaptive rules that control a series of subroutines that govern activity, flight etc. With larger robots such as drones, now in use, there are always human operators, 2 or more per drone. Target sensing and acquisition can be automated as this is rule based.

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1 Response to "Future of building, smart construction, robots, quadrotors, technology and architecture"

1 | Scott Rajavuori

February 9th, 2012 at 1:50 pm

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This stuff is seriously too cool. We just can’t let the machines get TOO smart… Thanks for sharing.

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