We wrote about Behrokh Khoshnevis’ awe-inspiring, rapid-prototyping “robo builder” back in 2005 when it was still a work in progress. In the near future, the University of Southern California professor’s contour crafting machine will be put to the test to build a two-story house in less than 24 hours, using only concrete and gypsum—and without the help of a single human hand. Khoshenevis’ groundbreaking robo-builder has caused some raised eyebrows and dropped jaws within the architectural community, as the machine provides a new model for construction that drastically cuts building timelines, material, manpower, and most importantly, waste and carbon emissions.
“The architectural options will explode,” predicts Dr Behrokh Khoshnevis at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, “Right now, your shoes, clothes, and car are already made automatically, but your house is built by hand, and that doesn’t make sense.”
Robo-building could completely revolutionize the building industry. A typical American house takes at least six months to complete, generating roughly four tons of waste. The new robo-builder will be able to erect most structures in about a day, generating far less waste in the process. Khoshnevis believes that the contour crafter will ultimately be able to create structures using adobe, mud and straw dried by the sun rather than cement.
The USC engineering professor was inspired to build this machine after an earthquake destroyed the city of Bam in his native Iran. Witnessing the devastation, Khoshnevis realized that a technology was needed to allow people to build stable homes in a rapid and economical manner. Contour Crafting is also being explored as a possible means of building habitats on other planets and moons, which are being targeted for human colonization before the end of the new century.