A Compound Arm Approach to Digital Construction

Steven J. Keating, N. Spielberg, John Klein, Neri Oxman


We introduce a novel large-scale Digital Construction Platform (DCP) for on-site sensing, analysis, and fabrication. The DCP is an in-progress research project consisting of a compound robotic arm system comprised of a 5-axis Altec hydraulic mobile boom arm attached to a 6-axis KUKA robotic arm. Akin to the biological model of human shoulder and hand this compound system utilizes the large boom arm for gross positioning and the small robotic arm for fine positioning and oscillation correction respectively. The platform is based on a fully mobile truck vehicle with a working reach diameter of over 80 feet. It can handle a 1,500 lb lift capacity and a 20 lb manipulation capacity. We report on the progress of the DCP and speculate on potential applications including fabrication of non-standard architectural forms, integration of real-time on-site sensing data, improvements in construction efficiency, enhanced resolution, lower error rates, and increased safety. We report on a case study for platform demonstration through large-scale 3D printing of insulative formwork for castable structures. We discuss benefits and potential future applications.

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