ETH Zurich Autonomous Excavator Build Stone Wall
Photo credit: ETH Zurich / Marc Schneider
ETH Zurich researchers used an autonomous Menzi Muck excavator to build a 19.6-foot-tall stone wall. The heavy machinery achieved this through the use of specialized sensors that enabled it to draw a 3D map of the construction site and localize existing building blocks as well as stones for the wall’s construction.

These specialized tools and machine vision allowed the excavator to scan / grab large stones in its immediate environment, while also registering their approximate weight. An algorithm was then utilized to determine the best position for each stone before the excavator placed the stones in the desired location. The excavator is capable of placing between 20-30 stones in a single task.

The work illustrates the potential of autonomous heavy construction vehicles to build adaptively with highly irregular, abundant, and sustainable materials that require little to no transportation and preprocessing,” said the researchers.