Fiberbots: Design of a multi-agent, fiber composite digital fabrication system
2018 Kayser M., Cai L., Falcone S., Bader C., Inglessis N., Darweesh B., Oxman N.,, Science Robotics, Vol. 3, Issue 22.
Swarm-based fabrication of interwoven composite tubes via a fully autonomous, cooperative system can help create architectural-scale structures in effective and efficient ways, including in remote environments.
Swarm-based fabrication of interwoven composite tubes via a fully autonomous, cooperative system can help create architectural-scale structures in effective and efficient ways, including in remote environments. Automated construction with robotic swarms ushers in the next era of robotic architecture. These systems are parallelizable, expediting the construction process. They can be mobile and adaptable, allowing site-specific design and digital fabrication, and can operate autonomously. However, such a future depends on the development of scalable systems capable of generating cost-effective and load-bearing structures. Previous studies identified mobility and simple communication as key components of scalable multi-robot construction but mainly focused on assembly of prefabricated parts (1, 2). Recent work (3) demonstrates that fiber-reinforced composites (FRC), such as fiberglass and carbon fiber, can achieve anisotropic and high-performing properties for architectural purposes. Our approach uses fiberglass tubes as structural primitives. Fiberglass tubes are commonly used in construction for reinforcement. Moreover, large-scale composite tubes with complex curvatures are often required for specialty applications, such as aircraft piping. However, the molds or mandrels required to fabricate these structures are geometrically constrained, expensive to make, and time-consuming to maintain. A process that enables fabrication of complex forms without sophisticated infrastructure would benefit from on-site automation of FRC construction at scale.