MIT’s Robot 3D-Printed the World’s Biggest Botmade Building

Researchers at MIT have developed a construction robot that 3D-printed the world’s biggest botmade building to date. The construction robot named “Digital Construction Platform” (DCP) was able to 3D-print in just 13.5 hours a 14.6-m-diameter, 3.7-m-tall open dome formwork structure. This structure is half the diameter of the U.S. Capitol dome.

Aside from 3D-printing the world’s biggest botmade structure to date, DCP’s remarkable achievements include building a structure from materials that can be found within its surroundings. It can build structures from sand, metals, compressed earth, and even ice. It can also dig and detect environmental cues including radiation.

The robot’s combined arms’ reach is 10 meters. At the end of the robot’s first arm is another arm used for finer movements and fitted with sensors, along with interchangeable tools for digging, welding, and printing. For its sustainability, the robot is fitted with solar panels and batteries.

“Instead of making a square building, you can make a Dr. Seuss–looking building for the same cost,” Steven Keating, the MIT mechanical engineer who led the research, told Science Magazine.

The robot developed by the MIT researchers still needs a little help from its creators. When the robot built the open dome, at one point when dew settled on the dome, Keating had to change the printing tip for a chainsaw.

DCP’s resourcefulness is ideal for creating structures on Mars, Keating said. He added that they love DCP to go to Mars, design a house or a town using the materials that are available on the ground. The MIT researchers said they have already been getting inquiries from NASA, the U.S. military, and Google.