A Reconfigurable Modular Swarm Robotic System for ISRU (In-Situ Resource Utilisation) Autonomous 3D Printing in Extreme Environments

  • Jonathan IrawanEmail author
  • Xavier De Kestelier
  • Nikolaos Argyros
  • Ben Lewis
  • Sam Gregson
Conference paper


Implementation of Robotics and Automation has revolutionised the Manufacturing Industry, generating unprecedented levels of efficiency, boosted productivity and lower levels of risks. As automation begins to seamlessly integrate and embed in various home applications, uptake in the AEC (Architecture, Engineering, Construction) Industry has been slow, only limited to off site fabrication. With this in mind, the departure point of the research investigation then lies in the identification of opportunities for on-site applications of robotics in construction. The paper proposes a new method of construction based on concepts of reusability and reconfigurability, re-envisioning operational life cycles in conventional, industry practices. An evaluation of industry and academic precedents of robotic applications presented an opportunity to propose a new conceptual framework for a reconfigurable, modular robotic swarm system that is comprised of an interchangeable “toolkit of parts”. Application of the framework was first developed for NASA’s 3D Printing Habitat Centennial Challenge, which manifested as an ecosystem of robotic assemblies that dynamically adapts to complete a multitude of tasks in the construction of a 3D Printed Shell Structure. The case study application was selected due to the extreme operational requirements such as size and logistical challenges, multiple levels of redundancies and adoption of “In-Situ Resource utilisation” [1] principles.


Swarm robotics Modular construction systems 3D printing Martian habitats Regolith Reconfigurability ISRU (In-Situ resource Utilisation) 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jonathan Irawan
    • 1
    Email author
  • Xavier De Kestelier
    • 1
  • Nikolaos Argyros
    • 1
  • Ben Lewis
    • 2
  • Sam Gregson
    • 2
  1. 1.HASSELL StudioLondonUK
  2. 2.Eckersley O’CallaghanLondonUK

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