Geometrically complex masonry structures (e.g., arches, domes, vaults) are traditionally built with scaffolding or falsework to provide stability during construction. The process of building such structures can potentially be improved through the use of multiple robots working together in a cooperative assembly framework. Here a robot is envisioned as both a placement and external support agent during fabrication – the unfinished structure is supported in such a way that scaffolding is not required. The goal of this paper is to present and validate the efficacy of three cooperative fabrication approaches using two or three robots, for the scaffold-free construction of a stable masonry arch from which a medium-span vault is built. A simplified numerical method to represent a masonry structure is first presented and validated to analyze systems composed of discrete volumetric elements. This method is then used to evaluate the effect of the three cooperative robotic fabrication strategies on the stability performance of the central arch. The sequential method and cantilever method, which utilize two robotic arms, are shown to be viable methods, but have challenges related to scalability and robustness. By adding a third robotic agent, it becomes possible to determine a structurally optimal fabrication sequence through a multi-objective optimization process. The optimized three robot method is shown to significantly improve the structural behavior over all fabrication steps. The modeling approaches presented in this paper are broadly formulated and widely applicable for the analysis of cooperative robotic fabrication sequences for the construction of masonry structures across scales.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Control and Systems Engineering
- Civil and Structural Engineering
- Building and Construction
- Discrete element
- Masonry vault