Chinese scientists aim to use Artificial Intelligence (AI) and 3D printers to build a dam on the Tibetan Plateau in southwest China without human labor. The execution is described in an article published in April in the Journal of Tsinghua University (Science and Technology).
With an estimated height of 180 meters, the Yangqu hydropower plant will be built layer by layer, just as it is done in 3D printing. For this, unmanned excavators, trucks, tractors, pavers and AI-controlled rollers will be used.
The automated assembly line will be overseen by a central artificial intelligence system. According to the scientists, the fleet of autonomous vehicles will be able to locate the materials of the work and transform them into a layer of the dam structure. Then, automated rollers equipped with sensors will press each layer until it becomes firm and durable.
When a layer is ready, information about the construction state will be sent by robots back to the AI system, which will compute the construction progress.
Delicate process still in human hands
However, not all construction will be done by machines, the researchers said. As it is a complex task, rock mining will be done manually.
Using robots and an AI system is one way to avoid human errors, such as when truck drivers deliver material to the wrong location or when roller operators cannot follow a straight line, said lead author Liu Tianyun of the Tsinghua University, to the South China Morning Post Asian website.
According to the project scientists, this technology could also be used in several other infrastructure projects, such as airport and road construction.
The world’s largest 3D-printed building
The ambitious project, when completed, will likely make the Yangqu hydropower plant the tallest structure in the world built using 3D printing. Currently, the record is held by a two-story office building in Dubai, which is 6 meters high.
It is unclear how the dam is progressing, but according to the South China Morning Post, according to state media reports, work began late last year in the Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of Hainan, Qinghai Province.
According to scientists, the Yangqu dam will be able to supply about five billion kilowatt-hours of energy every year to China.
*From Busines Insider and South China Morning Post.