Monday, January 15, 2007

Robots to build homes in the future

Here is an article about two sets of researchers attempting to build robotic system that will be used to construct houses. Using a technology similar to the concept of 3D inkjet printers, the robots would spray precise layers of gypsum and concrete to build the shell of a house in 24 hours or so, with only one human being on site.

The technology sounds pretty wild. It reminds me of the classic Warner Brothers cartoon starring Michigan J. Frog introduced (and singing Hello, My Baby, Hello My Honey, Hello My Ragtime Gal..."). while demolition workers are taking down a building by zapping it layer by layer with a laser gun, causing the building to conveniently disappear. If you ask me, that technology would be FAR more useful than this one of Robots building houses. I'm still throwing leftover construction crap out and our renovation has been done for 5 months now.

But I wonder how many decades it will take for this to gain acceptance. It seems to me that much of the population would have a hard time accepting this not only for the "humans replaced by robots" factor, but simply because classic facets of construction seem to rule. I often read various homebuilding magazines that tout the next great technology that will change the business, but I rarely hear about that technology in action. This seems primarily due to expense. For example, every magazine writer loves the concept of radiant floor heat. But in reality installing it can cost several thousand dollars, and running it can be expensive as well. Sometimes a $100 baseboard heater pays.

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