The Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia in Barcelona is working on a set of robots that will soon be able to build complex structures by extruding layers of concrete, a process that might be a bit slow but that will allow strange, unique shapes to be formed using concepts popularized by plastic 3D printers.
The team, Shihui Jin, Stuart Maggs, Dori Sadan and Cristina Nan and led by Sasa Jokic and Petr Novikov, has created small robots, called Minibuilders that perform various tasks. The Foundation Robot lays down a structure base while the Grip Robot sits at the top of the foundation and runs around it, laying down a bead of epoxy and marble powder and instantly curing it so it can maintain its upward motion. Finally a Vacuum Robot clings to the side of the object and lays down perpendicular swatches of concrete. Together, in concert, the robots can build complex objects that would normally require molds or other cumbersome equipment to produce.
Multiple robots can work together to build various structures and a central hose-bot squirts out cement as needed. In short, the strange concert of robots, cement, and architecture should make for some cool structures with especially sculptural elements. I, for one, welcome our robotic architect overlords.