Automated re-prefabrication system for buildings using robotics

06 Apr 2018

Prefabrication has the advantages of simplicity, speed and economy but has been inflexible to changes in design which is a primary reason behind its limited market share in the construction industry. To tackle this drawback, this study presents a Robotic Prefabrication System (RPS) which employs a new concept called “re-fabrication”: the automatic disassembly of a prefabricated structure and its reconstruction according to a new design. The RPS consists of a software module and a hardware module. First, the software employs the 3D model of a prefabricated structure as input, and returns motor control command output to the hardware. There are two underlying algorithms developed in the software module. First, a novel algorithm automatically compares the old and new models and identifies the components which the two models do not have in common in order to enable disassembly of the original structure and its refabrication into the new design. In addition, an additional novel algorithm computes the optimal refabrication sequence to transform one model into another according to the differences identified. Meanwhile, the hardware module takes the motor control commands as input and executes the appropriate assembly/disassembly operations, and returns the desired refabricated structure in realtime. Validation tests on two lab-scaled prefabricated structures demonstrate that the system successfully generated the desired refabrication sequences and performed all assembly operations with acceptable placement precision.