Robotic Tubular Steel Building Construction
For some time robots have been put to work in factories to manufacture many of the products we use. Right now Revcad Ltd, a specialised engineering CAD software company based in the UK, look set to open a whole new chapter on robotic manufacture by developing their software to manufacture and erect spectacular tubular steel buildings. This means huge robots, that look like giant ants or termites, are fitted with a car size electric battery and unleashed from their moorings to climb and build these structures. The robots are used to cut and manufacture the tubes, and then climb the structure, carrying the tubes, with on-board welding equipment to actually erect the building, setting each tube steel component in place one by one.
For decades now Revcad have been developing complex geometrical software for design and manufacture in the sheet metal and construction steel industries. Their software is used around the world by many companies ranging from the small metal shops to the large corporates, often as the very basis of their business. At the same time, over this period, Revcad have often taken on major contractual challenges for clients developing software for complex mechanisms, such as the virtual design and analysis of engines and gearboxes for the automotive industry.
The main challenge to accomplish the robotic construction of buildings is the need for really intelligent software to design and drive the robots, and for these robots to have intelligence about the designs they are building. Revcad have been able to bring all their areas of expertise together to make this possible and they have now developed the software to the point of proof-of-concept so the movement of robots and all the actions necessary to manufacture and build can be virtually demonstrated. The next step is to develop the software on to achieve a build solution for their first building which they are proposing to be a building they call the Canopy, or River Canopy.
The Canopy is a huge structure with a square base size of 100-200 metres or more. It looks like the base of the Eiffel Tower with four foundational legs and arches through the four sides, with its overall shape a perfect spherical cap or dome. The Canopy is designed to be a very elegant and iconic building to enhance a city’s skyline, but it also has a functional purpose. It can be used as a river crossing with shops and restaurants slung beneath it, or, with the addition of a roofing layer, it can be placed in a park as a huge covered area for outdoor events such as sports or concerts, ideal for a rainy country.
What is likely to be most attractive to any developing city is that the whole build process will become a high-tech tourist attraction for the duration of the build, really enhancing the high-tech profile of the city. Then when the building is complete robots can still continue to climb and navigate the structure performing coordinated choreographed movement, such as dance, or the raising of the national flag, or even offer rides to the public if the health and safety concerns can be suitably addressed. Imagine being carried up the Empire State building by a huge robotic King Kong. The possibilities are mind boggling.
Revcad are now looking for industrial partners and investors. First to advance the software to complete the first build solution, and then to construct the robots ready to put them to work on their first buildings. Once a build solution is achieved it can be repeated on different scales around the world. The builds will be quick and relatively inexpensive because robots work together continuously in a coordinated way to produce the result that has been planned down to the fine detail, including every minute robotic movement. Once the foundations are set, which for the Canopy has a very small ground signature, the main investment is in robotic plant. The robots assemble and disassemble their own scaffolding (also tubular steel) and the need for cranes is eliminated. This means the sky is literally the limit and many new things become possible, such as a whole sports stadium built above a city with a minimum ground signature in its supporting foundation.
Revcad are now actively looking for a partner in the development of this new technology, first to complete the software, and then to get involved in building the robots. Anyone wanting to explore the project further can find information on the following web page.
Trevor Maddison - Managing Director - Revcad Ltd.
T: +44 7724500299
15 June 2016