Project Highlight: Swarm Robotics for Large Structure Manufacturing

Image Credit: Pvilion

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the ARM (Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing) Institute worked with the Department of Defense to solicit and fund technology projects to mitigate the effects of COVID-19 and aid in future pandemics. This project, led by Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), was funded through this Project Call and focuses on the development of a team of robots to help manufacture overflow health care and quarantine structures following a disaster.

“These robots are needed to fill a real void in manufacturing that’s currently present. They will enable faster production of a structure that could give medical teams the extra space they need to respond to a pandemic like the one we’re currently experiencing.” – Glenn Saunders, RPI Principal Investigator

Project Team

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (PI), Pvilion, Albany Medical Center (participant)


The COVID-19 pandemic has caused overcrowding in hospitals, leading to potential delays in treatment both for COVID-19 and other health issues that would typically require hospitalization. This project seeks to mitigate this issue by developing a team of robots that can aid in building solar-powered, versatile structures to be used for a variety of functions, such as shelter, infection control, medical care, and more.

The team of robots will work alongside human workers in building the structures, enabling a shorter time to build. Specifically, RPI is working to design, build, and program a team of small human-directed robotic platforms to take on the hard work of holding heavy material, rotating it, and pulling it taut while it is being joined together as part of this project. This project will impact any manufacturing operations where multiple robotic agents act together to accomplish a common objective.

Progress to Date

The results of this project can help the U.S. respond to this pandemic, as well as future crises. The versatility of the structures, combined with how quickly they can be erected, allows for a variety of use cases.

The project team is working on an expediated timeline and expects to complete the project by August 2021. You can also learn more in RPI’s write-up of the project here. ARM Members can access more information about this and other ARM Institute funded projects by logging into the digital Member Community.

To learn more about working with the ARM Institute, email [email protected].


The Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing (ARM) Institute accelerates the development and adoption of robotics technologies that are the foundation of every advanced manufacturing activity today and in the future.  We leverage a unique, robust, and diverse ecosystem of partners across industry, academia and government to make robotics, autonomy and artificial intelligence more accessible to U.S. manufacturers large and small, train and empower the manufacturing workforce, strengthen our economy and global competitiveness, and elevate our national security and resilience.  Founded in 2017 in Pittsburgh, PA by Carnegie Mellon University and operating as an independent non-profit funded by the Department of Defense, ARM is part of the DoD Manufacturing USA® network. Learn more at

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