Well, now robots are taking a leaf out of the smart business playbook by working with each other. Specifically, a team of mobile robots has collaborated to 3D print large structures quickly.
When we say mobile robots we actually mean robotic arms on mobile bases, but that’s still pretty darn exciting. Two mobile robots worked together to print a single-piece concrete structure. This could be a world first.
Roboticists at Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in Singapore think that “the actual printing of a single-piece concrete structure by two mobile robots operating concurrently” is the first time it’s ever been performed.
There are numerous benefits of robots being able to collaborate on 3D printing. These include:
• Greater flexibility in what can be worked on.
• Speeding up printing times as several robots can work on different parts of a structure.
• Stronger, more complex concrete structures can be built.
To reach this stage has taken many years of research, and getting robots to actually move and 3D print at the same time will require a lot more.
There are many potential applications for a team of mobile 3D printing robots. However, according to a paper about their research (Large-scale 3D Printing by a Team of Mobile Robots) in the journal ‘Automation in Construction’, the NTU scientists have something particular in mind.
“Using a fleet of mobile robots for construction could have an extreme potential in other non-conventional aspects. One such application is to allow automated construction in hard-to-reach, remote areas, such as underground caves, the Moon or Mars, to which it is inconvenient or even impossible to bring other kinds of machine required for existing cementitious material printing methods.”