Robotic Vehicle System Can 3D Print A Whole Building

MIT researchers have created a robotic system that can 3D print the basic structure of a whole building. Consisting of a tracked vehicle that carries a large industrial robotic arm - which has a smaller, precision-motion robotic arm at its end - the new free-moving system could build structures of any size, faster and less expensively than traditional construction methods. As a proof of concept, the researchers used a prototype to build the basic structure of the walls of a 50-foot-diameter, 12-foot-high dome, which was completed in under 14 hours. Ultimately, the system is intended to be self-sufficient. It has a scoop that could be used to both prepare the building surface and acquire local material for the construction itself. The whole system could be operated electrically -even powered by solar panels. The idea is that such systems could be deployed to remote regions to provide durable shelter rapidly. MIT mechanical engineering graduate Steven Keating says the ultimate vision is "in the future, to have something totally autonomous, that you could send to the moon or Mars or Antarctica, and it would just go out and make these buildings for years."