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[VIRTUAL] Spring 2021 GRASP Seminar: Robert Stuart-Smith, Weitzman School of Design, “Semi-Autonomous Design & Construction”

March 1, 2021 @ 1:30 pm - 2:30 pm


Buildings have substantial socioeconomic and environmental impact on society, while construction itself remains a dangerous undertaking. Partially addressing this, the building industry is slowly adopting robotic manufacturing methods in order to increase far lagging productivity, yet there remains a serious need to re-think the way buildings are designed and constructed to address both practical needs and creative opportunities in order to build a brighter, more equitable future. While autonomous systems in robotics research is focused on a particular set of robot control orientated application scenarios, engaging with varying degrees of autonomy in architectural design, fabrication and construction offers an alternative approach to a broad range of architectural and construction challenges. Use of autonomous programming within multi-objective design-engineering, or to provide adaptation and situated awareness within fabrication or construction, offers increased efficiencies, capabilities, and creative opportunities to re-think the built environment. This lecture presents a number of research projects that leverage multi-agent systems, behavior-based control, and collective robotic construction for the generative design and/or construction of buildings.


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Robert is an Assistant Professor of Architecture and Director of Penn’s new Masters of Science in Design: Robotics & Autonomous Systems degree program in the Weitzman School of Design. He directs the Autonomous Manufacturing Lab in Penn’s Department of Architecture (AML-PENN), and co-directs its sister lab in University College London’s Department of Computer Science (AML-UCL). Robert’s research operates at the intersection of generative design, robotic fabrication and collective robotic construction, in the pursuit of an integrated approach to architectural design, manufacturing and robot behavior through varying degrees of programmed autonomy that enables more efficient, situated and adaptive means to engage with the built environment, offering reductions to the environmental, economic and safety impacts of building design and construction. This research is being developed through funded projects including as PI for the £1.2mil EPSRC project “Applied Off-site and On-site Collective Multi-Robot Autonomous Building Manufacturing” and as Co-I for a £2.9mil EPSRC research project into “Aerial Additive Building Manufacturing (Aerial ABM)”. Robert’s research involves collaborations with industry partners including Cemex, Skanska, Burohappold, Arup, Ultimaker and others on projects including a full-size prototype “Siteless House” to be constructed on campus in the next twelve months in partnership with other Weitzman Faculty, a Penn Alum, and Cemex Global R&D. Siteless House leverages robotic fabrication and state of the art concrete to enable a light-weight, design-for-disassembly, relocatable building alternative to tiny houses and permanent construction which necessitates private land ownership.


March 1, 2021
1:30 pm - 2:30 pm
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