Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Denver news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Des Moines news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Minneapolis-St. Paul news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tampa Bay news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Charlotte news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Image courtesy of Steven Keating

A new robot designed by a research affiliate at MIT can digitally construct buildings out of local materials ranging from ice to dirt to moon dust.

Why it matters: The Digital Construction Platform (DCP) is revolutionizing construction by proving that new technology can source local energy and materials to autonomously manufacture buildings — all while adapting to local conditions. This is particularly helpful in disaster relief situations and hazardous environments.

How it works: DCP is basically a giant, solar-powered, four-ton robotic arm (that you'd typically see on an assembly line) that sits atop tank tracks. It zips around collecting data about its surroundings, like radiation levels and topography, using the sensors in its technology. The arm has a nozzle that can mix various local, viscous materials and spray them to create structures.

The timing: Because of the DCP's solar panels, it can operate for eight hours after one charge. It can be powered up and ready to go in just minutes.

The results: The DCP constructed a 50-foot wide dome from stock-insulating foam spray in 13.5 hours.

Who it could replace: This robot could change architects' jobs by replacing contractors who would typically do things like wiring or HVAC before the building construction could begin.

One fun thing: Steven Keating, the DCP's creator, wrote that the technology would aid in "autonomous construction systems" for use in "extraterrestrial exploration," like building things from ice on Mars. "We've shown how we could do [it]," Keating told Fast Company. "And NASA is very excited to use ice for printing on Mars because ice absorbs a lot of cosmic radiation."

Video courtesy of Steven Keating

Go deeper

Biden Cabinet confirmation schedule: When to watch hearings

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris on Jan. 16 in Wilmington, Delaware. Photo: Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images

The first hearings for President-elect Joe Biden's Cabinet nominations begin on Tuesday, with testimony from his picks to lead the departments of State, Homeland and Defense.

Why it matters: It's been a slow start for a process that usually takes place days or weeks earlier for incoming presidents. The first slate of nominees will appear on Tuesday before a Republican-controlled Senate, but that will change once the new Democratic senators-elect from Georgia are sworn in.

Kamala Harris resigns from Senate seat ahead of inauguration

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. Photo: Mason Trinca/Getty Images

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris submitted her resignation from her seat in the U.S. Senate on Monday, two days before she will be sworn into her new role.

What's next: California Gov. Gavin Newsom has selected California Secretary of State Alex Padilla to serve out the rest of Harris' term, which ends in 2022.

3 hours ago - World

Putin foe Navalny to be detained for 30 days after returning to Moscow

Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny. Photo: Oleg Nikishin/Epsilon/Getty Images

Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny has been ordered to remain in pre-trial detention for 30 days, following his arrest upon returning to Russia on Sunday for the first time since a failed assassination attempt last year.

Why it matters: The detention of Navalny, an anti-corruption activist and the most prominent domestic critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, has already set off a chorus of condemnations from leaders in Europe and the U.S.

You’ve caught up. Now what?

Sign up for Mike Allen’s daily Axios AM and PM newsletters to get smarter, faster on the news that matters.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!