It is particularly fascinating equating the use of robot technology to manufacture building components on, or near, site, as outlined by Andrew Watts of Newtecnic with a couple of articles doing the rounds of Microsoft news about NASA’s ‘3D Printed Habitat Challenge’ to design buildings to be used on Mars from local materials, employing, I would presume, the highly trained astronauts as ‘local skilled craftspeople’. Newtecnic’s Construction Labs are doing, in practice, exactly what is being hypothesized as an essential part of Space exploration and colonization of the Red Planet – or the Moon, for that matter.
It’s not just construction, either, as projects in Saudi Arabia are being designed to facilitate maintenance by robots, the unique designs of some of the projects proving unsuitable for crane access after completion. One of Newtecnics main projects, King Abdullah Financial District Metro hub in Riyadh has been specifically engineered for future robotic access over its expected 60 year life span, using the digital 3D twin model of the building and GPS to plot maintenance locations and routes on the building. Robots can do the heavy lifting, whilst Lidar and camera equipped drones can be used for inspection and cleaning.
This reminds me of a demonstration I attended some years ago, courtesy of SolidWorks, where a company from one of the Gulf States presented a very lifelike ‘robotic servant’ – a country that, like the rest of the region, employs vast numbers of people from the Far East – and, in particular, The Phillipines, - as domestic servants and ‘cheap’ labour.
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