Construction Robotics

, Volume 1, Issue 1–4, pp 3–14 | Cite as

Mobile robotic fabrication at 1:1 scale: the In situ Fabricator

System, experiences and current developments
  • Markus GiftthalerEmail author
  • Timothy Sandy
  • Kathrin Dörfler
  • Ian Brooks
  • Mark Buckingham
  • Gonzalo Rey
  • Matthias Kohler
  • Fabio Gramazio
  • Jonas Buchli
Original Paper


This paper presents the concept of an In situ Fabricator, a mobile robot intended for on-site manufacturing, assembly and digital fabrication. We present an overview of a prototype system, its capabilities, and highlight the importance of high-performance control, estimation and planning algorithms for achieving desired construction goals. Next, we detail on two architectural application scenarios: first, building a full-size undulating brick wall, which required a number of repositioning and autonomous localisation manoeuvres. Second, the mesh mould concrete process, which shows that an In situ Fabricator in combination with an innovative digital fabrication tool can be used to enable completely novel building technologies. Subsequently, important limitations of our approach are discussed. Based on that, we identify the need for a new type of robotic actuator, which facilitates the design of novel full-scale construction robots. We provide brief insight into the development of this actuator and conclude the paper with an outlook on the next-generation In situ Fabricator, which is currently under development.


Construction robotics Digital fabrication Mobile manipulation In situ fabrication 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Agile & Dexterous Robotics LabETH Zürich, Institute of Robotics and Intelligent SystemsZürichSwitzerland
  2. 2.ETH Zürich, Chair of Architecture and Digital FabricationZürichSwitzerland
  3. 3.Moog Inc.BuffaloUSA
  4. 4.Renishaw PLC.GloucesterUK

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