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Robots to build Heatherwick and BIG's proposed Google HQ

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An army of robot-crane hybrids will be assembled to build Google’s new headquarters in California, according to the latest design papers posted by the IT giant

Mock-ups of the so-called ‘crabots’ are featured in lengthy planning documents submitted to the City of Mountain View Council in Silicon Valley and seen by AJ this week.

As revealed last July, the tech firm has commissioned Thomas Heatherwick, BIG and engineers AKTII to design its extended HQ, which will house 20,000 Google staff.

The ‘crabots’ are described in the documents as a mash-up of flexible crane and robotic machine.

Much of the internal design of Google’s new HQ will depend on the success of the robots which will roam under the gigantic canopies of the sprawling site and lift and shift pre-fabricated components, furniture and services.

‘We have studied different options to create a lightweight, flexible and “hackable” system for the building of the interior structures,’ the paper continues.

‘Our objective is to create a solution that can be assembled efficiently and economically within pre-erected canopy structures by means of small, easily manoeuvrable cranes.’

‘Through the life of the buildings this [will] allow reconfiguration and maintenance…of the canopy envelope from within.’

According to the design documents, the internal structures of the HQ will adopt an ‘integrated’ system of steel columns and monocoque floor plates.

These floor plates will take the form of ‘pre-fabricated steel trays’ stretching 5m wide and 14m in length.

Their maximum weight of 10 tonnes is the ‘maximum liftable weight’ of a small ‘manageable crane’, according to Google’s papers.

‘The monocoque system has been tested in each of the buildings of this submittal and has proved a flexible and resilient system to various degrees of ‘hacking’ and customising,’ they continue.

‘We have developed special edge clip-on components with the monocoque system that allow to cantilever the floor plates out from the columns.

Google declined to comment.

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Readers' comments (1)

  • Looks like they'll have a little bit more time to invent the building technology first; local council have given the majority of the site to LinkedIn, rather than Google. Story on Verge today: http://www.theverge.com/2015/5/6/8562123/google-headquarters-reboot-squashed-by-linkedin

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