FIBERBOTS: Design and Digital Fabrication of Tubular Structures Using Robot Swarms
Rapidly increasing demands to enhance speed and safety for on-site and site-specific construction drive the need to develop collaborative and autonomous systems. Such systems generally involve the use of retrofitted gantry and robot arm systems, which have size constraints and are computationally complex to use in collaboration with other machines. This paper describes an alternative multi-robot system built from the ground up to enable collaborative and site-specific construction. The strategy simplifies design workflows while simultaneously maintaining structural, environmental, and robot dynamic constraints. This system of ‘swarm fabricators’ enables robotic agents to operate in parallel, digitally fabricating independent tubular forms. Each robot controls its position allowing the system to effectively ‘grow’ a large-scale woven architecture. The robots fabricate by pulling fiber and resin from ground-based storage and winding a composite around their own bodies. Additional sections of a composite tube are appended upon each other, starting from a base. The system relies on an environmentally informed flocking-based strategy to design the structure and inform the robots’ trajectories.
KeywordsSwarm robotics Autonomous construction Site-specific construction Composite fabrication Adaptive fabrication Fabrication-aware design
The authors would like to acknowledge Robert Ricardo I Garriga for fabrication work in constructing the robots and base structure. Thank you to Melinda Szabo for her instrumental work building the software interface and implementation of networking to the robots. This project was made possible in part through generous contributions from GETTYLAB.
- 1.Royo, J.D., Soldevila, L.M., Oxman, N.: Physical feedback in fabrication information modeling (FIM). In: Martens, B., Wurzer, G., Grasl T., Lorenz, W.E., Schaffranek, R. (eds.) Proceedings of the 33rd International Conference on Education and Research in Computer Aided Architectural Design in Europe (eCAADe): Real Time: Extending the Reach of Computation, vol. 2, pp. 299–307. Vienna (2015)Google Scholar
- 2.Mehta, A.M., DelPreto, J., Shaya, B., Rus, D.: Cogeneration of mechanical, electrical, and software designs for printable robots from structural specifications. In: Proceedings of the IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems, pp. 2892–2897. Chicago (2014)Google Scholar
- 3.Chen, D., Levin, D.I.W., Didyk, P., Sitthi-Amorn, P., Matusik, W.: Spec2Fab: a reducer-tuner model for translating specifications to 3D prints. ACM Trans. Graph. 32, 1 (2013)Google Scholar
- 5.Studio Roland Snooks. http://www.rolandsnooks.com/
- 6.Ardiny, H., Witwicki, S., Mondada, F.: Construction automation with autonomous mobile robots: a review. In: Proceedings of the 3rd RSI International Conference on Robotics and Mechatronics (ICROM), pp. 418–424. Tehran (2015)Google Scholar
- 8.Lindsey, Q., Mellinger, D., Kumar, V.: Construction of cubic structures with quadrotor teams. In: Durrant-Whyte, H., Roy, N., Abbeel, P. (eds.) Robotics: Science and Systems VII, pp. 177–184. MIT Press, Cambridge (2012)Google Scholar
- 9.ICD/ITKE Research Pavilion 2016–17 | achimmenges.net. http://www.achimmenges.net/?p=19995
- 10.Minibuilders. http://robots.iaac.net/
- 12.Petersen, K., Nagpal, R., Werfel, J.: TERMES: an autonomous robotic system for three-dimensional collective construction. In: Durrant-Whyte, H., Roy, N., Abbeel, P. (eds.) Robotics: Science and Systems VII, pp. 257–264, MIT Press, Cambridge (2012)Google Scholar
- 13.Allwright, M., Bhalla, N., El-faham, H., Antoun, A., Pinciroli, C., Dorigo, M.: SRoCS: leveraging stigmergy on a multi-robot construction platform for unknown environments. In: Dorigo, M., Birattari, M., Garnier, S., Hamann, H., de Oca, M.M., Solnon, C., Stützle, T. (eds.) Swarm Intelligence, pp. 158–169. Springer International Publishing, Switzerland (2014)Google Scholar
- 14.Jenett, B., Cheung, K.: BILL-E: robotic platform for locomotion and manipulation of lightweight space structures. In: Proceedings of the 25th AIAA/AHS Adaptive Structures Conference, American Institute for Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), pp. 1876–1888. Grapevine, TX (2017)Google Scholar
- 15.Reynolds, C.W.: Flocks, herds, and schools: a distributed behavioral model. In: Proceedings of the 14th annual conference on Computer graphics and interactive techniques (ACM SIGGRAPH’87), pp. 25–34. Anaheim (1987)Google Scholar