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House building robot Advantage: humans, but for how long?

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A group of architects, robotics researchers, material scientists and digital fabrication specialists at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology ETH Zurich are putting several new digital building technologies into practice.

For the first time, a house is being built, from planning to construction, entirely using digital techniques. The aim is to make future construction technologies more sustainable and efficient, while increasing creative potential.

It starts with so-called 'Mesh Mould' technology, using a two-metre high robot. The 'In situ Fabricator' moves autonomously via caterpillar tracks, then welds together a wire mesh that is filled with concrete.

The work is taking place at NEST (Next Evolution in Sustainable Building Technologies), a research construction site by the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology, known as Empa, and the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology, or Eawag.

By the time the construction is completed in 2018, the building is to be equipped with smart home solutions and Internet-of-Things technologies.