Rhizome: Development of an Autarkic Design-to-Robotic-Production and -Operation System for Building Off-Earth Habitats (final report and movie)
In order for off-Earth top surface structures built from regolith to protect astronauts from radiation, they need to be several metres thick. Delft University of Technology (TU Delft) advanced research into constructing habitats in empty lava tubes on Mars in order to create subsurface habitats. By building below ground level not only natural protection from radiation is achieved but also thermal insulation because the temperature below ground is more stable. A swarm of autonomous mobile robots developed at TUD scans the caves, mines for in situ resource utilisation (ISRU), and with the excavated regolith that is mixed with cement constructs the habitat by means of automated and Human-Robot Interaction (HRI) supported Design-to-Robotic-Production-Assembly and -Operation (D2RPA&O) methods developed at TUD. The 3D printed rhizomatic habitat is a structurally optimised porous structure with increased thermal insulation properties due to its porosity.To regulate the indoor environment a Life Support System (LSS) is considered, which is, however, outside of the scope of the presented research. Instead, the production and operation of the habitat are explored by combining an automated kite-power system with solar panels in a microgrid with the goal to develop an autarkic D2RPA&O system for building off-Earth subsurface autarkic habitats from locally-obtained materials.