Researchers at ETH Zurich have employed an autonomous excavator, the Menzi Muck, to construct a 20-foot high and 213-foot long dry-stone wall using a pile of boulders and reclaimed concrete. The initiative aligns with the circular economy principles in the construction industry. The project took place in a park where the landscape was digitally planned, and the excavator autonomously carried out the earth excavation.
The Menzi Muck excavator is noteworthy for its advanced software, highlighted in the accompanying video. Equipped with various sensors, the excavator can generate a 3D map of the site and identify boulders in the landscape, seamlessly incorporating them into the construction of the dry-stone wall. Utilizing machine vision, the excavator assesses the size, shape, weight, and center of gravity of each stone, and an algorithm determines the optimal placement without the need for mortar or cement.
The autonomous excavator’s capabilities include processing 20 to 30 stones simultaneously, a quantity coinciding with a typical stone delivery. This innovative approach showcases the potential of autonomous machinery in advancing sustainable construction practices and efficiently utilizing available materials.
Want to build your own excavator? Check out this finely-detailed R/C excavator for top-notch inspiration and if this project is a bit too intense then why not start off small with something from our STEAM Young Makers sections.