Maybe it could even build structures on Mars.

The machine takeover continues, and the next humans to lose their jobs may well be construction workers.

Behrokh Khoshnevis, a professor of Industrial and Systems Engineering at the University of Southern California, has spent the last 15 years working on a machine that will "print" buildings. He's still working on it, but in the TedTalk video below, you can see the prototype at work. Various nozzles and robots slide around on a giant grid of mobile bars and rails, mixing cement, laying electrical wire, and installing rebar. He calls the practice Contour Crafting.

The technology, he says, will be faster than all conventional building methods, including prefab construction. It will also be cheaper, and use less energy than all but emergency construction practices. What's more, because it can build whatever you can program into a computer, it will offer unprecedented design flexibility - right angles, wild patterns, or soft curves, like those of the House of Brojerdi in Khoshnevis's native Iran.

Professor Khoshnevis thinks the technique could revolutionize construction wherever quick housing is needed. As he writes on the CC website:

Contour Crafting will most probably be one of the very few feasible approaches for building structures on other planets, such as the Moon and Mars, which are being targeted for human colonization before the end of the new century.

The colonization part is news to us, but regardless, the machine will be able build a 2,500-square foot house in 20 hours! Watching the machine pour concrete at the 6:45 mark, 20 hours seems like plenty of time.

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. a photo of a tiny house in Oregon
    Design

    How Amazon Could Transform the Tiny House Movement

    Could the e-commerce giant help turn small-home living from a niche fad into a national housing solution?

  2. The downtown St. Louis skyline.
    Perspective

    Downtown St. Louis Is Rising; Black St. Louis Is Being Razed

    Square co-founder Jack Dorsey is expanding the company’s presence in St. Louis and demolishing vacant buildings on the city’s north side.

  3. Warren Logan
    Transportation

    A City Planner Makes a Case for Rethinking Public Consultation

    Warren Logan, a Bay Area transportation planner, has new ideas about how to truly engage diverse communities in city planning. Hint: It starts with listening.

  4. A portrait of Jay-Z.
    Equity

    The Roots of Jay-Z’s ‘Black Capitalism’

    Now partnering with the NFL, Jay-Z centers wealth-building in his activism, as many African Americans have before him—but without much success.

  5. a photo of a person sleeping on the street in L.A.'s Skid Row.
    Equity

    Trans Teens, Trailed by Homelessness

    In California and other states, transgender and non-binary people are more likely to be unsheltered than any other unhoused population.

×