Internet giant Google plans to enlist a veritable army of spidery steel "crabots," or crane-robots, to build, and later to alter, the massive new headquarters building it is planning to erect in Mountain View, California.
In plans submitted to the Mountain View Council, Google revealed that its futuristic building will be initially constructed, and later given ongoing modifications, by the crabots in a "lightweight, flexible and 'hackable' system for the building of the interior structures," Architects Journal
"Our objective is to create a solution that can be assembled efficiently and economically within pre-erected canopy structures by means of small, easily maneuverable cranes," the plans state.
"Through the life of the buildings this (will) allow reconfiguration and maintenance of the canopy envelope from within."
The unique structure has an "integrated" system of steel columns and floor plates, weighing up to 10 tons apiece, which easily can be relocated by the crabots, allowing continual modification of the building's interior floor plan.
"We have developed special edge clip-on components with the monocoque system that allow to cantilever the floor plates out from the columns," AJ reports.
The massive four-part project would occupy 60 acres of the North Bayshore area, and would feature huge glass canopies over steel pillars, creating a virtual environment in which Google can regulate its own climate. Floors will angle, so that Google's employees can move from one level to another up ramps, without the use of stairs, Bloomberg News
"For additional office and meeting space, modular rooms can be added, stacked, and removed as needed. To accomplish this, Google says it will invent a kind of portable crane-robot, which it calls [a] crabot, that will reconfigure these boxes and roam the premises like the droids in 'Star Wars,' " Bloomberg says.
The crabots will allow "four futuristic structures where basic building elements, floors, ceilings and walls, attach or detach from permanent steel frames, forming whole new workspaces of different sizes. With help from small cranes and robots, interiors will transform in hours, rather than months," Silicon Valley Business Journal
David Radcliffe, Google's vice president for real estate, said, "tech evolves overnight. Teams come together, they disband (and) new products pop up. We can be a search company one day and be looking at self-driving cars the next, or both, and so we really needed facilities that were able to respond at the same speed as the technology industry was responding," SVBJ reported.
However, Google already has run into opposition, with the Mountain View Council on May 5 granting only a fraction of the land it needs for the project and giving the majority of the space to another proposal from LinkedIn.
Amid political concerns that Google's massive project, which includes housing, could realign voting rolls in Google's favor, Councilman Ken Rosenberg told Bloomberg News: "They are not the only company in town, and there is a significant amount of public pressure not to be a one-corporation town."
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