USC professors have won a highly prestigious NASA research award to
develop new robotic construction technologies for building structures on
the Moon and Mars. Professors Behrokh Khoshnevis (Industrial
Engineering), Anders Carlson (Architecture), Neil Leach (Architecture)
and Madhu Thangavelu (Astronautics) have been awarded a Phase 2 NASA
Innovative Advanced Concepts [NIAC] research award for a project
entitled, 'ISRU Based Robotic Construction Technologies for Lunar and
Martian Infrastructure'. The project is based on the concept of 'In Situ
Resource Utilization' [ISRU], and seeks to use resources readily
available on the Moon and Mars as construction materials for novel
robotic construction technologies in order to build infrastructure
components such as roads, landing pads, blast walls and storage spaces.
The project builds upon the success of an earlier NIAC Phase 1 award won
by the team for a project entitled, 'Contour Crafting Simulation Plan
for Lunar Settlement Infrastructure'.
Assistant Professor Anders Carlson is Co-PI on the project. He is
examining the environmental variables affecting infrastructure design
including extreme thermal cycling, radiation, micrometeorite impacts,
vacuum, and moon or Mars gravity. Integrated design is being
investigated to understand the importance of each environmental
constraint and its comparison to design on earth. His focus is on
assessing the viability of different structural forms influenced by the
Lunar and Martian environments, construction methods and sequencing, and
heat transfer. The research will rely on informed parametric design to
conduct optimal form-finding based on environmentally imposed
constraints and various competing objectives including material
processing, transport and quantity.
The recent promise of Landscape Architecture is predicated on capturing an expanded territory of the urban matrix. Landscape Urbanism positions the profession to engage with the entire “horizontal body” of the city, suggesting that landscape architects are poised to succeed in this complex negotiation.
However, while the profession has enjoyed a growing role in planning, it often finds itself sidelined in determining the morphology of urban infrastructure – the instrumental built form that patterns the vast majority of the urban condition.
The work of the Landscape Morphologies Lab, directed by USC landscape architecture professor Alexander Robinson, seeks to build tools and methodologies for advancing the craft and agency of design practices in instrumental territories, where performance issues overshadow most design agendas.
One such project, in collaboration with Andrew Atwood, includes the development of a landscape prototyping machine to improve the design of dust mitigation landscapes at the Owens Lake in Lone Pine, California. The prototyping machine hybridizes engineering metrics, physical modeling, robotic technology, digital projection, and 3D scanning to create a multi-sensory design platform for addressing the complex issues present on the lake. The machine creates a common ground where designers, engineers, and the public can dynamically engage in the multiple agendas inherent to the lake.