Construction is a complex process involving many operations with each operation requires manipulation of physical objects. Before introduction of technology used in construction industries, it mainly relies on humans to operate the tools and equipment. Automation of construction industry by use of autonomous robots coordinating with each other is intensely gaining momentum. According to Kirstin, et.al., (2011) the introduction of automation in construction has the potential to improve measures like speed and efficiency, as well as enabling construction in settlings where it is difficult or dangerous for human to work, for this case construction of commercial building and homes on the moon.
Although other people argue that use of robots in construction will replace human workers. But using of automated robots in construction of houses and buildings comes with many benefits; increase safety, high precision, lower cost, and optimization of the industry’s profile. First, robots offer safety because of their great precision in movement and operation and therefore reduces chances of injuries or accidents. For instance, robots are controlled using remotes which allows people working in that field to access safely places with high chances of accidents to occur. Second, autonomous robots have a very high precision when it comes to task execution. They can even detect any potential clash and in the process optimizes the construction process. Third, with reduced cases of accidents and high precision, the cost of operation will definitely be lower. Hence, the use of robots in construction reduces the cost of operation because they complete work on time with no errors at all. Lastly, robots can be used to optimize the construction industry (Koutsogiannis, 2017).
To understand well how the autonomous robots works, we must first address the capabilities of the robots that will be suitable to be used in moon for the construction of commercial houses and building. The ideal autonomous robots for the task must be able to climb on obstacles, navigate and lift, carry and attach construction materials. Climbing is very important role since the robots are required to climb the rugged and rocky terrains on the moon surface to be able to collect and transport the construction materials. This will be used in excavating and transportation robots since they will be the one which encounter the rocky terrains. All the autonomous robots need to have a good navigation system which will aid in maneuvering over or around the constructed structures while keeping track of its position and orientation with respect to the structure Kirstin, et.al., (2011). Navigation system include the sensors using infrared (IR), global positioning system (GPS) and track identifiers. For example, this property will enable it to tell if it has moved outside its track. The turning of the robot will be controlled remotely or automated. For the robots to be able to build the commercial houses they must be able to manipulate by carrying or picking the construction materials. For instance, the excavating and construction robots are equipped with arms, and grippers (Kirstin, Nagpal, & Werfel, 2011).
Construction of large-scale commercial structures especially on moon will requires robots that can be used to manipulate building materials as well as to maneuver the low gravity on the moon surface and over or around the structures being constructed with minimal destructions and high precision. In the moon robots can be used to collect building materials and use it to build a target structure in a flat, obstacle-free workspace (Kirstin, Nagpal, & Werfel, 2011). There are autonomous excavator robots that can remove and load materials into transporting trucks.
Bock, (2008) notes that construction can be achieved by use of automation using robots based on computer assisted planning and construction management. On moon, performing masonry work by human will be a hard task which is near to impossible because humans relay on oxygen, and we all know that in moon there is no oxygen. Meaning that the construction workforce will depend on artificial oxygen for them to perform the task, which can be very expensive. On the other hand, robots don’t require oxygen and can be used effectively in the construction of houses on moon. According to (Bock, 2008) robots are used in Germany in the pre-fabrication of brickwork. He explained that they are used because of the economic conditions and the independence of weather conditions. This may be that robots can work independently and, in all environments, and they are reliable. This application can be used in the construction of commercial homes on moon.
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Collecting and transportation of building materials can also be automated using autonomous robots on the moon. As per (Stentz et.al., 1999) autonomous robots can be used to excavate to rabidly remove soils and other construction materials and load them in the transporting trucks. This type of application is efficient on the moon surface because quarrying of rock, and construction of highways require the rapid removal and handling of massive quantities of soil, ore, and rock which can only be made possible by use of autonomous robots. To automatize an excavator, it will use two scanning laser rangefinder that are mounted on either side of the boom, used to sense the dig face, truck, and obstacles in the workspace (Stentz et.al., 1999). Bellow is a pictorial representation of the excavator and a sketch of the same.
Since the moon surface is not an even surface like a table, the autonomous excavator robots will be of great help during collection and transportation of construction materials form the mining sites to the construction sites on the moon. They can recognize the truck they are to load, by verifying that it is a loadable truck and not a surveillance truck. This is achieved by fitting each truck with a global positioning system (GPS) sensors and the identification transponders Stentz et.al., (1999).
Casting of concrete during construction can also be automated. For example, using robotic cells which could execute various tasks such as setting molds, placing reinforcement bars or mats distributing concrete for various products such as floor, roof, wall, beam and column elements. The autonomous robots can be used to mix building materials that is, concrete, sand and tar, and also used in the standardization of concrete products (Bock, 2008). The use of this kind of autonomous robots to cast concrete always results in a constant quality work and less waste of resources because they are controlled by computers. The computer assisted planning has all the data required for the contraction and in the process less errors are encountered.
The best thing about using autonomous robots in constructions is that they work together to achieve a single task. Robots can be used to construct the walls of the commercial homes and building on the moon. They are very effective in wall construction because they have the ability to measure the environmental changes that can be caused by wind movement or vibration. The data collected is then used to increase precision during the construction process. For instance, a wall construction robot called Hadrian X uses proprietary blocks and adhesive. According to Matthews, (2019) the construction materials used by Hadrian X are much bigger than the ordinary house blocks and are lighter, stronger and environmentally friendly. This kind of robotics can be also applied in the construction of houses on the moon because they reduce the cost of operation and waste, and in the process provide a safer working environment. The image below shows an automated wall construction robot.
In conclusion, the construction industry is tremendously improving in term of technology and over the past decade there has been introduction of automated constructions robots. Taking these construction technologies and be used in construction of commercial buildings and homes in the moon can be achieved. For instance, introduction of automation in construction has the potential to improve measures like speed and efficiency, as well as enabling construction in settlings where it is difficult or dangerous for human to work. I said this because working in moon is near impossible task for humans, as we require oxygen. Also, the low gravity on moon will just make working conditions hard for the humans, not to mention the high radiations on the moon surface cause by the sun. From the analysis above, autonomous robots can be used in performing masonry work, collecting and transportations of construction materials, excavations of building materials, casting of concrete and construction of building walls. We have also seen numerous advantages of using autonomous robots for the construction of large-scale commercial homes, and they include increase safety, high precision, lower cost, and optimization of the industry’s profile.