FIBERBOTS: an autonomous swarm-based robotic system for digital fabrication of fiber-based composites

Markus Kayser, Levi Cai, Sara Falcone, Christoph Bader, Nassia Inglessis, Barrak Darweesh, and Neri Oxman, Constr Robot (2018) 2: 67.


 Construction is a labor-intensive industry that relies on dependent processes being completed in series. Redesigning fabrication processes to allow for parallelization and replacing workers with mobile multi-robot construction systems are strategies to expedite construction, but they typically require extensive supporting infrastructure and strictly constrain fabricable designs. Here we present Fiberbots, a platform that represents a step toward autonomous, collaborative robotic fabrication. This system comprises a team of identical robots that work in parallel to build different parts of the same structure up to tens of times larger than themselves from raw, homogeneous materials. By winding fiber and resin around themselves, each robot creates an independent composite tube that it can climb and extend. The robots’ trajectories are controlled to construct intertwining tubes that result in a computationally derived woven architecture. This end-to-end system is scalable, allowing additional robots to join the system without substantially increasing design complexity or fabrication time. As an initial demonstration of system viability, a structural case study was performed. The robots constructed a 4.5 m-tall tubular composite structure in an outdoor environment in under 12 h. While further improvements must be made before this can be used in industry or in truly cooperative settings, this is the largest known demonstration of on-site construction with multiple, homogeneous mobile robots. This work offers a scalable step forward in autonomous, site-specific fabrication systems.

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