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Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have created a double-armed, laser-guided robot that can basically 3-D print a 50-foot-wide house in less than 14 hours with almost no human intervention. The Digital Construction Platform, described today in Science Robotics, consists of a large hydraulic arm mounted on a platform with motorized treads, plus a smaller electric-powered arm for finer movements. The MIT team programmed the solar-powered machine to spray out foam construction material, layer by layer, to form a 12-foot-high, igloo-like structure big enough to house a family. The researchers hope such robots could someday be sent to the moon, Mars or Antarctica to build “print-in-place” habitats from the materials at hand … or at manipulator.

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