The TERMES Project
Nature provides us with impressive examples of animal construction: many species of termites build complex mounds several orders of magnitude larger than themselves. Yet the individual architects and engineers are small, expendable, and seem to operate with with little to no centralized supervision. Social termites provide an inspiration for the design of a swarm construction system, where many autonomous robots cooperatively build large-scale structures. Human construction traditionally involves direct human operation of tools and equipment, careful preplanning, and little or no true automation. Bringing automation to construction has the potential to improve measures like its speed and efficiency, as well as enabling construction in settings where it is difficult or dangerous for humans to work, e.g., disaster areas or extraterrestrial environments.