China is building a 590-foot dam in only 2 years thanks to AI and 3D printing

No humans required.
Chris Young
A hydroelectric power station with flowing water.nkurtzman/iStock

China aims to build the world's tallest construction using 3D printing processes and artificial intelligence (AI).

The country will reportedly build a massive hydropower dam in the space of only two years thanks to AI, construction robots, and 3D printing technology, a report from Business Insider reveals.

The Yangqu dam will be built layer by layer on the Tibetan plateau, and the process has been outlined in a paper published in April in the Journal of Tsinghua University.

The world's tallest structure using 3D printing processes

If all goes to plan, the dam will become the world's tallest structure using 3D printing processes, smashing the previous record — held by a 20-foot-tall two-story office building in Dubai.

The scientists behind the new paper say the completed Yangqu dam will provide 5 billion kilowatt-hours of power annually to China.

The process will be carried out by a central AI system that will manage an intricate automated assembly line, including a fleet of unmanned vehicles, according to the authors of the paper. 

Unmanned trucks will be used to transport building materials, while driverless bulldozers and pavers will also help in the construction. Rollers equipped with sensors will help to press each layer of the dam. For each layer of the dam that is laid down, sensors will be analyzed by AI to make sure the construction process is going to plan.

AI construction will eliminate human error

According to the researchers, the use of AI will eliminate human error, making for a smoother construction process and also removing the risk of human injury inherent in any construction site.

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The report draws comparisons to a fully automated "hands-free" farm in Australia that's being used as a testbed for replacing farm workers with robots and AI. However, in this case, China's authorities are seemingly entrusting a massive construction process to the project's AI system. According to the South China Morning Post, the scientists behind the project say that it could provide a blueprint for other construction projects, including road building.

If the reports are true, Yangqu Dam could be a landmark project, enabling the safe, efficient construction of massive infrastructure projects as China faces labor shortages caused by a falling birth rate. 

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