A new research effort aims to improve manufacturing of rapidly deployed structures in order to address future shortages of medical care and quarantine facilities. This project will rely on the development of a group of self-aware, human-directed robots to assist in manufacturing. It is being funded by the Department of Defense through the Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing (ARM) Institute.
In this particular project, the team will support Pvilion, a company based in Brooklyn, NY, in producing self-erecting, solar-powered structures that can be configured to suit the needs of a specific mission, including providing critical care, shelter, quarantine, infection control, or other functions. Pvilion is also currently working with the United States Air Force Rapid Sustainment Office.
Manufacturing these structures requires manipulating and joining together multiple pieces of large, heavy, waterproof fabric. The Rensselaer team will design, build, and program a team of small robots that will be capable of holding the material, rotating it, and pulling it taut while it is being heat sealed together. The robots will work in coordination, guided by humans, as well as software and algorithms that will also be developed and built by Rensselaer researchers.