Collective robotic construction is a contemporary research field in which multi-robot systems modify their shared environments to materialize structures. Current research is primarily focused on the positioning of elements and tends to disregard connection strategies, limiting scalability and structural viability of autonomously built structures. This study demonstrates methods by which a heterogeneous team of robots connects discrete timber elements by winding carbon fiber through pre-routed grooves to establish a structurally performant joint. In contrast to current human-centric steel fasteners, CFRPs are flexible, compact and can be easily integrated into mobile robots, enabling the exploration of novel robot-orientated connection typologies.
By regarding the timber as an integral part of the robotic system, assembly information is pre-programmed into the material, including instructions for navigation, localization and construction. This substantially reduces robot complexity, weight, size, cost and allows for decentralized control of the connection agents. Through cooperation between different robotic and material species, a fully autonomous assembly choreography can be performed, leveraging the task-specific capabilities of each agent in the team. This building framework demonstrates the utility of heterogeneous robot teams in facilitating novel construction methods that could eventually mount a challenge to the reliance on existing human-centric connection strategies in timber assemblies.
ITECH M.Sc. Thesis Project 2020: Joint Effort - Robot team enabled carbon fiber joining strategies for lightweight wood construction
Simon Lut, Tim Stark, Lasath Siriwardena
Thesis Advisers: Simon Bechert, Hans Jakob Wagner
Thesis Supervisor: Prof. Achim Menges
Second Supervisor: Prof. Jan Knippers