Robotic Construction Systems in Unstructured Environments

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The research presented in my dissertation is dedicated to advancing autonomous construction systems with a specific focus on enabling the design and implementation of highly adaptable multi-robot construction systems in unstructured environments. Throughout this research, we address various challenges and propose innovative methods for autonomous construction processes in diverse scenarios involving both single and multiple robots. Additionally, we explore the utilization of various materials and adapt to different communication requirements to enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of construction operations. By developing advanced algorithms and techniques, we empower robots to autonomously undertake construction tasks that were previously heavily reliant on human intervention. We present abstract construction models that enable robots with different construction capabilities, using materials of different physical properties and sizes, to modify unstructured environments in a distributed system. Our reactive approach allows robots to coordinate and add material to the same structure, and each robotic agent uses an abstract model of the environment to compute legal construction steps based on its current knowledge. We showcase the versatility of the model by running the system on different terrains and with mixed materials, including both deformable and rigid components. We propose construction strategies that carefully consider the geometric and physical constraints of the robots, building materials, and the construction workspace. By taking these factors into account, our strategies enable the selection of feasible building actions, allowing for the construction of objects with significant variation. We address the challenges posed by irregular shapes and diverse construction scenarios, ensuring that our approaches are adaptable to the unique characteristics of the environment, robots, and materials involved. By integrating communication aspects, we enable coordination and information sharing among robots. This includes direct communication as well as indirect communication through environmental cues using the concept of stigmergy. To test, validate, and evaluate the abstract models and construction approaches, we have designed and built robotics systems capable of manipulating and constructing with various types of materials. These robotics systems serve as practical implementations of our theoretical models. Additionally, we developed a testing environment in a laboratory setting that allows us to easily modify the construction environment and adjust the level of complexity to assess the performance of our construction approaches. Furthermore, we have created a simulation environment that enables us to design and investigate approaches for large-scale construction and test the scalability of the system. Through these comprehensive testing and evaluation mechanisms, we ensure the robustness and effectiveness of our abstract models and construction methods in different scenarios and scales. In summary, this research contributes to the development of autonomous construction systems by addressing various challenges in unstructured environments. The investigations include the automation of assembly planning processes, property-driven navigation algorithms, construction models for heterogeneous materials, and system architectures for cooperative construction tasks. These contributions pave the way for advancements in construction automation, enabling efficient and effective operations in remote and extreme environments.

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49 pages

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Construction robots; Construction simulation; Found material; Multi-robot construction; Robot design; Stability analysis


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Committee Chair

Napp, Nils

Committee Co-Chair

Committee Member

Petersen, Kirstin
Kress Gazit, Hadas

Degree Discipline

Electrical and Computer Engineering

Degree Name

Ph. D., Electrical and Computer Engineering

Degree Level

Doctor of Philosophy

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Government Document




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dissertation or thesis

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