Joint venture explores robotic construction of homes

A new method for constructing homes using robots is being researched by a collaboration between Construction Scotland Innovation Centre (CSIC), timber engineering firm Glulam Solutions, and Robert Gordon University (RGU).

The project will focus on the design of robotic fabrication of a cross-laminated timber (CLT) joint.

At the moment, most construction takes place as manual assembly on site, which SCIC said could lead to delays, inaccuracies, defects and material waste.

Theo Dounas, learning excellence leader at RGU, said he believed the research project has the potential to significantly improve construction methods, helping to increase the quality and output while reducing costs and time.

Dounas said: “This proof-of-concept research project will look at the process of designing a simple timber prototype house to address pressing market needs within Scotland and the UK.

“The innovation lies with the integration of a house design prototype and its robotic fabrication out of complex CLT panels manufactured offsite.

“It is hoped that through this initial project, our solution could bring dramatic benefits not just to the Scottish housing market, but also to the Scottish construction market. We would then hope to develop a range of ideas and solutions, from logistics, to design, to the real testing of CLT joints, and formation of insulated composite panels.”

Syd Birnie, managing director of Glulam Solutions, said: “This is our very first project linking an academic concept to our commercial approach and it’s an exciting prospect getting the chance to use CSIC’s robotic facilities. We are crying out for more innovation in the construction industry and we hope this is the first of many real advancements for timber engineered building solutions.”

Sarah Buchanan, business relationship manager at CSIC, added: “CSIC were delighted with the response to the Robotics Challenge that we launched to enable industry to access the robotics technology in CSIC’s Innovation Factory at Hamilton International Technology Park together with access to our technical expertise to help the academic with applied research.

“We actively encourage industry to work with academics and technology and this collaboration is a great example where the model at CSIC really works.”

Image: SCIC

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