Modular mobile robot can take on multiple roles at construction site
Austrian startup Printstones has been developing robotic 3D-printing robots since 2017, and has just pulled back the curtain on its latest prototype, a mobile multi-tasking construction bot called the Baubot.
Like machines from Japan's National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, Fastbrick Robotics, the Fraunhofer Italia Innovation Engineering Center, and others, the Baubot is being developed to assist and automate the construction industry, improving site safety while lowering overall costs as it rolls along.
The electric-drive robot gets to where it needs to be on tank-like all-terrain tracks at a maximum speed of 3.2 km/h (2 mph), and can be controlled manually using a smartphone interface or set to follow pre-programmed commands. It's reported capable of climbing stairs, can navigate through doorways, and has a per-charge operation time of up to eight hours.
The Baubot's multi-function robot arm has a reach of 1,000 mm (39 in), has an accuracy of under 1 mm, and can accommodate a number of different tools to help with construction tasks such as milling and drilling, driving in screws, plasma cutting, welding, laying bricks, sanding and painting surfaces, and more. The robot can also haul a payload of up to 500 kg (1,100 lb) on its back, so it can transport materials to where they're needed too.
Integrated cameras allow for site monitoring, there's built-in lighting for working long into the night, and integrated displays for showing status notifications and advisory message to human co-workers. Printstones says that it "needs almost no set-up time" and can be brought to site using a standard transporter.
The development team aims to work on AI simulations of work environments in the future, so that the robot can benefit from thousands of hours of training before arriving at a site. And a Baubot doesn't necessarily need to help human construction workers.
"What will start as simple robot collaboration can develop into robot swarms working together enabling innovations in various fields, e.g. onsite positioning, environment recognition as well as new intelligent tools and processes," said the company.
Third-party developers can add their own toolsets and create new applications for the mobile robot via a SDK interface, and the platform design could extend beyond the construction site to move into shipbuilding or aircraft manufacturing, or could be used for infrastructure inspections.
The Baubot is still at the prototype stage, but the video below demonstrates the kind of work it could be tasked with. Printstones is currently looking for partner applications to its pilot project program, and the company told us that the next generation of its mobile robotic system is coming next year, ahead of commercial production.