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Image The Automated Builder

Automated construction machines are being applied on construction sites in the construction of houses and industrial buildings. The experience gained will help stimulate the greater use of IT within the European construction industry


An integrated masonry building system, incorporating specialised grippers, robot programming and software tools for wall partitioning and construction site and materials planning, is making possible the automation of building tasks even in one-of-a-kind constructions. Two manipulators have been developed: one with a working height of 3.5m for house-building, and the other with a 10m working height for industrial construction. Supporting vehicles, sensors, grippers and control systems have been developed, as well as specialised software modules. But the main success of the project has been in integrating these components. The automation of a traditionally inefficient industry sector will enable it to compete effectively with overseas competitors. In addition, the research has greatly advanced the state of knowledge of the requirements for automation components working under the difficult conditions of a construction site.

Business perspective

The construction industry often suffers from relatively low productivity, because of diverse suppliers, single piece construction with individual design features, changing environment and shortage of skilled workers. European construction has fallen behind Japan, for instance, in the adoption of information technology, and ROCCO aims to redress that balance. Computer integration of construction processes offers an important advantage over assembly of prefabricated parts, in that it does not limit the planning freedom of the architect. Competing Japanese automation machinery is only productive if building many identical floors. ROCCO offers more flexibility by virtue of the automated machine programming of an on-site assembly system, making it possible to automate one-of-a-kind construction.

Technical perspective

Two mobile robots have been developed: one with a 10m reach and 500kg maximum payload for industrial buildings, and one with 3.5m reach and 300kg payload for domestic construction. The smaller is atop a semi-autonomous vehicle, and is light Image enough to work from the house floor. Both can function semi-autonomously, and share a common user interface for telemanipulation by users in the case of unforeseen circumstances. The robots draw data from a CAD-based architectural design, and process it with two microprocessor control systems based on market available standard hardware: one for robot control, and one for the vehicle. Special software modules for such functions as wall partitioning and saw optimisation are already in use at the companies where they were developed.


The robot for residential buildings was exhibited and demonstrated at the BAUMA exhibition in autumn 1995, and was well received by the construction industry. Full prototypes are expected by autumn 1996. The specialist software modules are already in use.

Contact Point

Friedrich Gebhart
Lanzstr. 4
D-88410 Bad Wurzach

Research Area Integration in Manufacturing

Project ROCCO

Related Results HEPHAESTOS ; CLEOPATRA-Controller ; ASPIC ; IMPROVE Flecom ;

Keywords construction industry; controllers, dedicated;robotics;

Project Participants
Bauunternehmen Gerhard Mayer DE
Berghof Labor DE
CRIF/WTCM Industrial Automation BE
Kalk Schencking DE
Lissmac GMBH DE
Universidad Politecnica De Madrid ES
Universit├Ąt Karlsruhe DE

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This page was last updated on 22 November 1996, and is maintained by (email removed)