AABM: Aerial Additive Building Manufacturing: Distributed Unmanned Aerial Systems for in-situ manufacturing of the built environment

March 2016 - January 2020

Additive Building Manufacturing (ABM) is transforming the construction industry through the 3D printing of buildings and building components. A number of countries are now demonstrating ABM can substantially reduce construction time, material and transport costs, improve worker safety standards and alleviate construction's impact on urban traffic congestion and the environment. ABM also provides geometrical variety at no additional cost. In contrast to most manufacturing sectors, variety is a necessity within construction to satisfy different client requirements and adapt to unique terrain, boundary and laws governing each physical site.

However, current ABM systems are difficult to deploy on construction sites due to their large size and fixed 3D Print build volumes that are not sufficiently flexible to deal with the complexities of most building scenarios, or provide adequate measures for human safety. These ABM technologies are unable to undertake maintenance and repair work, or construct buildings in many urban or elevated sites. They are also not able to be utilised for post-disaster reconstruction activities where their manufacturing speed would be of great assistance.

To address this limitation, this research proposal aims to develop the world's first Aerial Additive Building Manufacturing (Aerial ABM) System consisting of a swarm of aerial robots (Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS)) that can autonomously assess and manufacture building structures. Aerial ABM offers major improvements to human safety, speed, flexibility, and manufacturing efficiency compared to existing ABM and standard building construction technologies. We have already developed and demonstrated pilot results using UAS that can extrude 3D Print material during flight and we have developed simulation environments that allow for autonomous planning and execution of manufacturing with swarms of UAS working in collaboratively.
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