Iranian Researcher Invents Robot Builder

Monday, April 28, 2008

Dr. Behrokh Khoshnevis, an Iranian professor of the University of Southern California (USC) has invented a robot which can build a house with a total area of 200 square meters in a matter of 24 hours with no human intervention. His invention may revolutionize the construction industry.

Khoshnevis has called his invention the biggest human achievement in construction after the Great Wall. Of course, as the German Spiegel has noted, “building” is not a good word to be used here because what the new robot does is not similar to what is currently going on at construction sites. The new machine marks the beginning of “house printing” 550 years after the printing industry came into being.

Dr. Khoshnevis, who lives in California, has noted that the main goal of his research was to pave the way for building a house with an area of 200 square meters in a single day and without human intervention and expressed hope that the goal would be achieved in a year.

Explaining about the new method, which is called “contour crafting”, Khoshnevis has noted that the robot first makes its own concrete by mixing such construction material as plaster, bricks, ordinary concrete, plastic material or even wood particles.

This robot takes instructions from a CAD drawing and then squirts layers of semi-liquid construction material to build up vertical walls and domed roofs. In this way, the building is made layer by layer and conduits for cables and canals are left to be filled later.

Khoshnevis noted that using the new technology a city like Bam can be reconstructed in a few weeks. A row of such robots can reconstruct several neighborhoods of a city at the same time. The application of new technology is not limited to building, but it can also be used to construct roads.

He added that the new machines will allow humans to spend their time doing other things rather than building houses and construction costs also greatly decrease because a large part of those costs is salaries.

Behrokh Khoshnevis is a professor of Industrial & Systems Engineering and Civil & Environmental Engineering, and is the Director of the Center for Rapid Automated Fabrication Technologies (CRAFT) and Director of Manufacturing Engineering Graduate Program at USC. He is active in CAD/CAM, robotics and mechatronics related research projects that include the development of novel Solid Free Form, or Rapid Prototyping, processes (Contour Crafting and SIS), automated construction of civil structures, development of mechatronics systems for biomedical applications (e.g., restorative dentistry, rehabilitation engineering, haptics devices for medical applications), and autonomous mobile and modular robots for assembly applications on earth and in space. He routinely conducts lectures and seminars on invention and technology development. He is a Fellow member of the Institute of Industrial Engineers, a Fellow member of the Society for Computer Simulation, and a senior member of the Society of Manufacturing Engineering. His inventions have received extensive worldwide publicity in acclaimed media such as New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Sunday Times, Business Week, Der Spiegel, New Scientist, Discover and Wired magazines, and national and international television and radio networks such as ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS, Discovery channels of US, Canada, Germany and BBC World News.

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