Design and assembly automation of the Robotic Reversible Timber Beam

Anja Kunic, Roberto Naboni*, Aljaz Kramberger, Christian Schlette

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


The field of architecture is more and more referring to wood as a sustainable solution for satisfying the need of new buildings while offsetting carbon emissions. In parallel, the research in Robotic Timber Construction (RTC) has evolved rapidly, focusing both on fabrication and assembly processes in order to improve the productivity of the construction industry and extend the production digital chain. This paper presents an original workflow for the automation from design to layered robotic assembly of reversible timber structures, aided by human-robot collaboration. An advanced digital design workflow for non-standard timber structures is established, shifting the focus towards the assembly of a kit of discrete wood elements into larger configurations that can be reconfigured in time. Linked to this, collaborative robots are employed for grasping, positioning and fixing of discrete timber elements, with the introduction of a multi-phase end effector that connects wood elements through reversible joinery. As such, the work introduces fundamental design and manufacturing concepts for an automated construction process that extends the material life cycle of wood, and consequently, its carbon store. The enhancement of robotic assembly is here achieved with the (1) integration of a feedback system based on location and force signals, and (2) human collaboration to provide immediate assistance to the robot in the case the signals do not match the defined assembly conditions. The various developments are applied to a research demonstrator which crystallizes the various design, constructional, and manufacturing inputs into a physical output, which is discussed from multiple viewpoints, in order to delineate relevant areas for future studies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103531
JournalAutomation in Construction
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2021


  • Design automation
  • Digital twin
  • Human-robot collaboration
  • Layered assembly
  • Reversible structure
  • Robotic timber construction


Dive into the research topics of 'Design and assembly automation of the Robotic Reversible Timber Beam'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this