By: Kendall Jones on February 23rd, 2018
Robots Are Coming to the Construction Site
In a recent post, we discussed the likelihood of robots replacing human labor on the construction site. While there may be some attrition in the future, the most likely scenario is that robots will be used alongside human workers to augment their work, keep them safer and boost productivity. The current capabilities of existing robot combined with a growing labor shortage will probably lead to robots handling some of the more menial repetitive tasks, leaving the human worker to focus on other aspects of their job.
Here are some of the robots making their way to a construction site near you:
Doxel is using robots and artificial intelligence (AI) to monitor jobsite progress with real-time, actionable data. The technology uses autonomous drones and rovers equipped with high-definition cameras and LiDAR to photograph and scan the construction site each day with pinpoint accuracy. Their AI then uses those scans to compare against your BIM models, 3D drawing, schedule and estimates to inspect the quality of the work performed and to determine how much progress has been made each day.
The AI uses deep-learning algorithms to identify and report errors in work performed. This can be anything from the excavation and site work to the mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems. The AI can recognize a building component based on its shape, size and location even if only a portion of the component is visible.
By classifying and measuring quantities installed, Doxel can tell you how much work was done each day which it can then compare against your construction schedule and alert you if your project is falling behind. The AI also detects deviations between installed components and onsite work with models so you can quickly identify errors and avoid costly rework.
The main goal of Doxel is to improve productivity, eliminate rework and help deliver projects on time and within budget. Doxel was used on a recent project for Kaiser Permanente in San Diego and was able to help the bring construction in 11% under budget and improved labor productivity by 38%. Doxel has recently raised 4.5$ million in funding.
Built Robotics’ Automated Track Loader, or ATL, was developed to excavate smaller construction sites. The system uses specially designed LiDAR to accommodate for vibrations in order to see where it is going and to measure the material being excavated. Augmented GPS, a combination of onsite base stations and satellites, are used to geofence the site and to move the track loader around the site with precision accuracy.
Instead of building an entirely new piece of heavy equipment, the electronics for the ATL are housed in a cargo carrier that attaches to the cab to retrofit existing compact track loaders. The system also has a collision detection system to prevent the loader from coming into contact with workers or other equipment on the construction site. The ATL also has a kill switch for the person supervising the work should it be needed.
Input from equipment operators was used in designing the software running the ATL and the machine operates at about the same speed as a human operator. Built Robotics has been tested out on a few pilot projects in the San Francisco area and has raised $15 million in funding.
A rebar tying robot might not seem that glamorous, but it does fill a very specific need on construction sites where labor is short. Developed by Advanced Construction Robotics, Inc., the TyBot can continuously tie rebar with only one worker needed to oversee the work.
Once the rebar for a bridge project has been placed, the TyBot can be set up using the existing bridge infrastructure and set to work. The robot moves along a gantry to identify each intersection of rebar, ties it and then moves on to the next intersection. The TyBot frame can expand to accommodate a bridge span of 145 feet.
The TyBot has a couple of clear advantages. One, it will allow a crew to be more productive because once they placed the rebar, they can move on to the next job while the TyBot does its work. Bending over and tying thousands of rebar intersections is back-breaking work that can lead to strains and other injuries.
The TyBot was used to tie rebar on a bridge in Beaver County, PA last November and in addition to renting it out for use, the company is currently taking purchase request with plans to begin delivering the robots in July.
You can check out more examples of robots in construction here.
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About Kendall Jones
Kendall Jones is the Editor in Chief at ConstructConnect. He has been writing about the construction industry for years, covering a wide range of topics from safety and technology to industry news and operating insights.