Interconnecting design knowledge and construction by utilizing adaptability and configurability in robotics : mediating digital information from architectural design to construction through parametric design intent based robot programming

Stumm, Sven Christoph; Brell-Cokcan, Sigrid (Thesis advisor); Beetz, Jakob (Thesis advisor)

Aachen (2018, 2019)
Dissertation / PhD Thesis

Dissertation, RWTH Aachen University, 2018


A large amount of design and planning knowledge is created throughout the different phases in construction projects. This information is employed within planning but is often lost in transition to the production and construction phases. Within this work an approach towards robotics as a mediator between planning and production is analyzed. The flow of information between Building Information Management (BIM), design and production is closely examined. However due to the requirements within construction new concepts for design to production and construction need to be developed. For manufacturing industries, a new work flow from design to production was mainly enabled through digitized machinery, as well as virtual commissioning of factories. The current degree of automation within the construction industry is low especially compared to industrial production. This is mainly due to the differences in the work environment. This creates multiple prerequisites for construction automation. Changing tasks and environmental conditions require a fast configurability of machines. Additionally, adaptation strategies for deviations and material tolerances are required. Within this work these requirements are addressed in detail, as well as potential solutions through developments within design to production and human-machine collaboration. The main focus is a continuous information flow between design, planning and execution as well as information feedback from the production phase back to the design. This creates new possibilities for a process informed design. Furthermore, a continuous feedback for the designer leads to new insights within design to production. Previous attempts at automation were made using specialized machines for specific tasks were mostly unsuccessful, due to their low flexibility. Construction tasks can be highly complex. Employing specialized machinery for singular tasks, therefore requires the adaption of the construction work towards the automated processes. This results in additional cost and interruptions to the work flow. Additional costs result out of the development, implementation and maintenance of a solution, which can only be used for a small specific individual application. This work analyzes the technological progress and communication strategies in current information systems, which lead to the development of new paradigms in Industry 4.0. For this reason, industrial robots are examined as exemplary versatile machines, which are able to process digital information, as well as affect their environments utilizing different end-effectors. Concepts are developed that aim to mediate between the digital and physical representation within construction projects. The term design intent based robot programming is coined which combines different approaches in robotics to advance towards robotics for construction.