Autonomous excavator creates 3D map of rocks to build 19-foot-tall wall

An autonomous excavator developed by researchers in Switzerland has successfully constructed a 19.6-foot tall and 130-foot long wall. Photo courtesy of ETH Zurich

Nov. 22 (UPI) -- An autonomous excavator developed by researchers at the Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich, Switzerland, has successfully constructed 19.6-foot-tall and 130-foot-long wall.

The excavator, named HEAP, scans rocks to determine their size, shape and center of gravity. An algorithm then determines the best location to place each rock.

"Using sensors, the excavator can autonomously draw a 3D map of the construction site and localize existing building blocks and stones for the wall's construction," ETH Zurich said in a press release Wednesday.

Researchers hope that the excavator can reduce labor needs for construction projects.

"The autonomous machine can place 20 to 30 stones in a single consignment -- about as many as one delivery could supply."

The system was developed as part of Switzerland's National Center of Competence in research for Digital Fabrication.

According to its website, "The National Center in Research Digital Fabrication aims to revolutionize architecture through the seamless combination of digital technologies and physical building process."