Ordinary people hardly use 3D printers at home, and 3D printed houses are not widely printed yet, but China is already planning to 3D print a massive dam in Tibet with an AI-assisted design and no human labor. The endgame is expected to deliver 5 billion kWh of electricity per year.
The project originated 10 years ago from the Laboratory of Hydroscience and Engineering at Tsinghua University with the overall idea of effectively building the world’s largest 3D printer. That would be many times larger than what we use to print 3D houses today.
As with consumer-level 3D printing, the 180-meter high dam would be built piece by piece (layer) in a very precise and systematic manner.
But putting aside human workers just to deploy robots controlled by an AI might prove harder than it looks. Theoretically, robots could work faster and more precisely, even under dangerous conditions.
However, the terrain and weather conditions could be challenging and I expect many engineers and staff will be on site to keep things running. Any situation that the robots cannot handle must be handled by humans.
The project is scheduled to be completed by 2024, which would be extremely impressive if that schedule could be met. As we recently reported, 3D printing is rapidly revolutionizing the way things are made. Sometimes it’s high-tech materials and tiny details, and now it could be something massive built at unprecedented speed.
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