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Building Houses Out Of Clay
New technology developed by Terran Robotics of Bloomington, Ind., is reviving the ancient craft of building houses out of adobe, which are bricks made from sun-dried clay.
“We wanted to bring automation to the construction industry,” says Terran co-founder, Zach Dwiel. “But rather than using robots to build the same way people do, we looked for construction processes that had the lowest material costs. This led us to earthen construction materials known as adobe, also called “rammed earth” and “cob.”
Terran custom-designed homes are built using clay that’s on-site or nearby. “Our robots use the latest in computer vision and artificial intelligence to autonomously transform clay, sand, and straw into extraordinary homes,” Dwiel says. The entire structure is built on-site and in one piece like it’s from a large-scale 3D printer. The AI-controlled robot has pincher-type arms that scoop up and move heavy globs of wet adobe, placing them where hammers do the final shaping into 12-in. thick walls. When the walls are dry, they’re heavy and durable.
The company builds the walls and works with local developers and builders to lay out a foundation and frame the roof, floors, windows, and other finishing. Dwiel says Terran’s technology uses fewer materials than standard walls and reduces labor costs by replacing the work of at least four contractors. The construction method produces almost no waste and generates 80 percent less CO2 than walls built with standard construction materials.
“The materials we use, including clay subsoil, aggregate, and straw, are widely available and some of the most ecologically sustainable building materials on earth,” Dwiel says. He adds that Terran’s technology could work for farm shops, but would likely be more expensive at this time than standard insulated pole-barn construction. “In comparison, though, our walls have the advantages of being better insulated, providing a higher thermal mass (better for passive heating and cooling), and are bullet-proof and sound-proof (reducing sound entering and leaving the building, as well as sound reverberating inside the building).
The company is under contract to build an office and a home in 2023 and has set up a waiting list of prospective customers that can be secured with a refundable $100 down payment.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Terran Robotics, Inc., Bloomington, Ind. (contact@terranrobotics.ai).

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2023 - Volume #47, Issue #3