Architecture will lose its formal rigidity, softening and flexing and getting closer to the life we see in plants.
As scientists make huge strides in robotics, natural building materials, and new construction methods, our urban architecture could take on a much different form than the rigid construction we’re used to.
As complex ecosystems, cities are confronting tremendous pressures to seek optimum efficiency with minimal impact in a resource-constrained world. While architecture, urban planning, and sustainability attempt to address the massive resource requirements and outflow of cities, there are signs that a deeper current of biology is working its way into the urban framework.
Innovations emerging across the disciplines of additive manufacturing, synthetic biology, swarm robotics, and architecture suggest a future scenario when buildings may be designed using libraries of biological templates and constructed with biosynthetic materials able to sense and adapt to their conditions. Construction itself may be handled by bacterial printers and swarms of mechanical assemblers.
Much of the modern built environment we experience began its life in CAD software. In the Bio/Nano/Programmable Matter lab at Autodesk Research, engineers are developing tools to model the microscopic world. Project Cyborg helps researchers simulate atomic and molecular interactions, providing a platform to programmatically design matter. Autodesk recently partnered with Organovo, a firm developing functional bioprinters that can print living tissues. This pairing extends the possibilities from molecular design to biofabrication, enabling rapid prototyping of everything from pharmaceuticals to nanomachines.
Tools like Project Cyborg make possible a deeper exploration of biomimicry through the precise manipulation of matter. David Benjamin and his Columbia Living Architecture Lab explore ways to integrate biology into architecture. Their recent work investigates bacterial manufacturing–the genetic modification of bacteria to create durable materials. Envisioning a future where bacterial colonies are designed to print novel materials at scale, they see buildings wrapped in seamless, responsive, bio-electronic envelopes.
From molecular printing to volume manufacturing, roboticist Enrico Dini has fabricated a 3D printer large enough to print houses from sand. He’s now teamed up with the European Space Agency to investigate deploying his D-Shape printer to the moon in hopes of churning lunar soil into a habitable base. Though realization of this effort remains distant, it’s notable to show how the thinking–and money–is moving to scale 3-D printing well beyond the desktop.
While printers integrate new materials and scale up to make bigger things, another approach to construction focuses on programming group dynamics. Like corals, beehives, and termite colonies, there’s a scalar effect gained from coordinating large numbers of simple agents towards complex goals.
The Robobees project at Harvard is exploring micro-scale robotics, wireless sensor arrays, and multi-agent systems to build robotic insects that exhibit the swarming behaviors of bees. They see a future where “coordinated agile robotic insects” are used for agriculture, search and rescue, and (of course) military surveillance. Taking a cue from mound-building termites, the TERMES project is developing a robotic swarm construction system. The team is working to get cooperative robots building things bigger than themselves by mapping the rules underlying emergence in autonomous distributed populations. Mike Rubenstein leads another Harvard lab, Kilobot, creating a “low cost scalable robot system for demonstrating collective behaviors”. His lab, along with the work of researcher’s like Nancy Lynch at MIT, are laying the frameworks for asynchronous distributed networks and multi-agent coordination, aka swarm robotics.
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The conflict in Ukraine is elevating some new military technologies, like drones and, potentially, lasers. More traditional weapons like tanks are falling flat.
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ACC members are just as financially committed to football as schools in other leagues, despite the perception that the league’s finances preclude higher spending. UNC, for example, tripled its ...
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The Degree of Urbanization project’s new definitions will change the way researchers and governments think about their cities.
- Future cities: How the pandemic is driving us to build the metropolises of tomorrowon July 28, 2022 at 8:00 pm
It seems the pandemic, for some, became a moment to reimagine how we see the future of our oldest cities. Why? Well, there was a small exodus out of our urban spaces during the pandemic. It was the ...
- Future Cities Could Be Built Out of Algae-Produced Materialon July 19, 2022 at 4:20 am
How scientists hope to use algae-grown limestone to build cities The burning of limestone from quarries contributes significantly to the 7% of the yearly greenhouse gas emissions from the ...
- Commencing Social Implementation of Hydrogen for the Development of Future Cities in Fukushimaon July 19, 2022 at 12:36 am
Fukushima Prefecture and Toyota Motor Corporation (Toyota) are focusing on hydrogen as a new source of energy.
- Netflix’s “The Future Of” Docuseries Explores How Technology Will Change the Futureon July 11, 2022 at 4:06 pm
The Future Of will dedicate each episode to exploring how a certain subject may be evolving in the years ahead thanks to modern technology. It’s taken nearly three years of work, but The Verge’s first ...
- From high-rise towers to underwater cities of the dead – what is the future of Australian cemeteries?on July 9, 2022 at 1:25 pm
"Looking to the future, cities are going to have to embrace dramatic shifts in the way they deal with the dead." Dr Gould is part of the "Death Tech" research team – yeah, that's a thing – a ...
- DIGITIMES: Why Are Smart Cities The Future Momentum'on July 5, 2022 at 10:42 pm
Smart cities, with a massive business potential, will become the future momentum! DIGITIMES will have Dr. Ayesha Khanna, Co-Founder and CEO of Addo, to share her observation of new smart city ...
- DIGITIMES: Why are Smart Cities the Future Momentumon July 5, 2022 at 10:17 pm
Smart cities, with a massive business potential, will become the future momentum! In the pre-event interview that asked about Taiwan's role in the smart city market, Dr. Khanna pointed out that ...
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- Future of Drone Technologyon July 27, 2022 at 5:00 pm
Thanks to advanced robotic and drone ... will be the devastating power of swarm drones in modern warfare. • Korea expects to have completed all highway construction within the next 5-7 years.
- China’s new nuclear plans could see them strike Australia within a weekon July 23, 2022 at 3:31 am
China wants to build a nuclear-powered torpedo “swarm” capable of striking targets ... low-cost nuclear-powered “killer robots” that can be carried by any military vessel.
- China’s new nuclear plans could see them strike Australia within a weekon July 22, 2022 at 3:09 pm
But it builds upon Russia’s ‘Poseidon’ nuclear-powered torpedo designed to trigger a tsunami off any coastal city with a nuclear warhead. The state-controlled South China Morning Post reports Beijing ...
- Swarm Robotics Market by Product and Geography - Forecast and Analysis 2022 to 2028.on July 7, 2022 at 5:00 am
This "Swarm Robotics Market size" was estimated at USD billions in 2022 and expected to reach USD billions in 2028, and is predicted to grow at a CAGR rate to reach USD billion by 2028.
- Smart Robots Target Valuable Metals With Sophisticated Lunar Mining Techniqueson June 30, 2022 at 4:59 pm
Training will happen on Earth so the robots can get the practice they need ... the hope is that they will be a fully autonomous swarm that can achieve appointed goals for mining and construction ...
- Nasa unveils swarm of alien-hunting robotson June 30, 2022 at 4:43 am
“Where can we take miniturised robotics and apply them in interesting new ways for exploring our solar system?” Schaler said. “With a swarm of small swimming robots, we are able to explore a ...
- Like a swarm of bees, these 3D printing robots can build almost any structureon April 15, 2022 at 6:34 am
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- Supervisory control of robot swarms using public eventson July 20, 2021 at 12:33 am
It has recently been used to generate correct-by-construction controllers for swarm robotics systems. Current SCT frameworks are limited, as they support only (private) events that are observable ...
- Autonomous Systems and Robotics Research Groupon June 6, 2020 at 2:14 am
Robotic laboratory for the food and aerospace manufacturing industries (led by T Dodd) Swarm robotics floor and demo facility ... hardware in the loop testing with real vehicles (under construction, ...
- These Robots Weave Super Durable Fiberglass Structures So Humans Don't Have Toon September 30, 2018 at 5:28 pm
A team of researchers from MIT has invented a type of swarm robot builders they call Fiberbots ... use Fiberbots to create the tubes we need for construction projects without requiring human ...