DARPA has a big idea: self-growing and self-healing buildings. The military research agency is know for turning science fiction into reality, so the it's possible their research could put the repair man out of business in just a matter of time.

The Engineering Living Materials program will ideally grow materials on demand where they're needed, cutting out any shipping fees to get steel produced in a factory to a site halfway round the world.

Perhaps the most promising goal of the program is to develop materials that adjust and adapt to their surroundings. For instance, DARPA proposes roof tiles that can passively control airflow, keeping your house cool in the summer and warm in the winter, all without you adjusting the thermostat.

The potential benefits are huge: Self-repairing buildings could last for centuries with little or no human repair work. Entire buildings could be grown from scratch, using very little material and requiring virtually zero shipping costs.

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