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Robot builds stable structures with loose stones and string

Researchers at ETH Zurich used a robot to construct the so-called Rock Print Pavilion, made only of loose stones and string, using a phenomenon known as “jamming”.

The pavilion is made with thirty tonnes (33 US ton) of loose stones and 120 kilometres (75 miles) of string by a construction robot. It was created on site, and consists of 11 three-metre-high pillars and a steel roof weighing 8 tonnes (8.8 US ton).

The project focused on robot-based assembly of simple, loose, and granular base materials. The pillars are built with a phenomenon known as “jamming”. The loose stones interlock together, but it’s the string that makes it stable. The robot continuously calculates how it has to be arranged to create a durable structure.

“The Rock Print Pavilion is exploring the possibilities offered by digital and robotic manufacturing,” the researchers say. Recycling is also embedded into the project: the components can be easily dismantled and the material reused.

The pavilion is part of the exhibition “Hello, Robot. Design between Human and Machine” at the Gewerbemuseum in Winterthur, Switserland, from 4 October to 4 November 2018.

Photos: Gramazio Kohler Research / ETH Zurich