A Construction Robot is Capable of Independently Building Massive Stone Walls

Using advanced technology such as 3D digital mapping and artificial intelligence

Using advanced technology such as 3D digital mapping and artificial intelligence, the robot can determine the optimal placement for each stone without any human instruction.


With its large gripper, the autonomous robot can transform a pile of boulders into impressive stone walls without the need for mortar. It learns on its own how to position each irregularly-shaped stone as the next building block.


In a public park on the outskirts of Zurich, Switzerland, this robotic excavator has successfully constructed a stone wall that stands 6 meters high and stretches 65 meters long. Additionally, it has autonomously landscaped the park’s terrain into terraces using a large shovel.

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According to Ryan Luke Johns at ETH Zürich in Switzerland, this is the first time such a robotic excavator has been utilized for the large-scale construction of permanent dry stone walls.

To achieve this feat, the robot is equipped with lidar, a technology that employs lasers to measure distances. This allows the robot to create its own 3D map of the construction site. Multiple artificial intelligence models have also been trained to assist the robot in determining the best way to grip and place individual stones.

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Once the robot has identified the location of each large stone based on the digital map, it grasps the rock, digitally scans it, and determines its weight to better understand how it will fit into the wall. After this scanning process, the robot can place one stone building block every 12 minutes.

Although this is 10% slower than experienced human machine operators, who average 11 minutes per stone placement, manual construction requires additional workers to mark visual guides for the operator, such as paint and string.

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Furthermore, traditional construction methods involving mortar often require workers on foot to use shovels or their hands to add supporting stones, gravel, and dirt. In contrast, the robot’s digital mapping and AI-powered analyses enable it to place stones with remarkable precision, with a median positional error of just one-tenth of a meter.