It’s not eight-legged (yet), but the Mediated Matter Group from MIT Media Lab is training a robot to weave web-like architecture, similar to the way a silkworm creates cocoons or a giant, metal black widow spider will capture humans for sport. It’s called CNSILK (Computer Numerically Controlled Silk Cocoon Construction).
The implications of the technology are genuinely exciting. Imagine the potential for prefabricated structures: Your house could ship to you in an flat-packed accordion lattice. You simply pitch the house like a tent, and an autonomous robot could come in and weave a flowing, organic structure from the slightest of frameworks with a level of artisan craftsmanship that no human team could duplicate.
Longer term, robots could take over the design and construction process entirely, weaving abstract buildings from any sort of basic information filtered through the right stream of algorithms. That same family home mentioned above could become a 3-D representation of the family’s DNA, meaning everyone house on the block would inherently look a little bit different, and you could spot a third cousin by their pattern of siding.
But for now, the three-week-old robot is only deploying a yarn-like thread on prearranged hooks. MIT researchers say that material will soon be replaced by a moist nylon substance that hardens as it dries. Subsequently, that substance will be replaced by some sort of sticky composite created from the remains of MIT researchers.