The first prototype — a watertight shell of a two-storey house built in 24 hours without a single builder on site — will be erected in California before April. The robots are rigged to a metal frame, enabling them to shuttle in three dimensions and assemble the structure of the house layer by layer. The sole foreman on site operates a computer programmed with the designer's plans.
Inspired by the inkjet printer, the technology goes far beyond the techniques already used for prefabricated homes. "This will remove all the limitations of traditional building," said Hugh Whitehead of the architecture firm Foster & Partners, which designed the "Gherkin" skyscraper in London and is producing designs for the Loughborough team. "Anything you can dream you can build.""