As we continually aim for progress in a flourishing world, we always look for simpler and quicker ways to get things done. For the construction and infrastructure industry, this ease has come from recent advancements in robotics and automation, making the industry succeed globally.
Following what Nikola Tesla once said, “The progressive development of man is vitally dependent on invention,” and with such new advancements, the construction industry is now witnessing a collaborative evolution combining the best of both robotic prowess and human craftsmanship.
How is robot-assisted construction beneficial?
Robot-assisted construction has shifted from manual labor and muscle work to the remote-controlled handling of automated machines. This has helped the industry grow many-fold in numerous ways, some of them mentioned below.
Achieving Accuracy: Human labor, although skilled, is still prone to making mistakes that can eventually have a cascading effect on a project’s workflow. Tasks like taking measurements, aligning them with the site’s context, and detailing the expected outcomes have often been found to fall victim to human limitations. This is where robotics can come into play, helping execute tasks with accuracy like never before. Whether it’s about building a wall, brick-by-brick, or 3D printing one using a concrete pump, robots eliminate any margin for human error, making sure that the required standards are met with precision.
Resource Optimization: Construction projects frequently face challenges such as cost overruns and inefficient use of resources, with factors like human error, material wastage, and operational inefficiencies playing a role in escalating the problem. Therefore, integrating technologies that promote better control over price and waste can be instrumental in addressing these challenges.
Timely Completion: Robots are not restricted to timely work hours and do not require frequent breaks from shifts. This allows for the continuous operation of tasks, running throughout the day and keeping up with the project timelines, all while ensuring a consistent quality of work completed at a speedy pace. For instance, bricklaying robots like SAM (Semi-Automated Mason) can work tirelessly, reducing labor costs and minimizing downtime, helping achieve outcomes that are far more productive in comparatively less time.
Enhanced Safety Measures: When it comes to performing tasks that involve inherent risks or are physically demanding, robots can, at times, be the best pick. By delegating dangerous tasks such as demolition, heavy lifting, or working in confined spaces to robots, the risk of accidents and injuries caused to human workers can be significantly reduced.
Robotic technologies in the construction and infrastructure domain
Let’s learn more about how these technologies contribute to the construction and infrastructure development industry.
Site Assembly Robots
Robotic systems are increasingly being employed in the assembly phase of projects to automate repetitive and labor-intensive tasks. These robots are designed to work collaboratively with human workers, making sure that the construction process benefits from the strengths of both automation and skilled craftsmanship. Some of its key uses in the construction assembly include:
Bricklaying Robots: These robots can autonomously lay bricks with high precision, thereby significantly expediting the construction of walls. They work in tandem with human operators, maximizing their potential.
Robotic Welding: For steel construction, robotic welding systems play a crucial role by ensuring precise and consistent welds, thereby improving the structural integrity of the assembled components.
Modular Construction: Automated systems can accurately assemble prefabricated units, facilitating the rapid construction of entire buildings with standardized components.
Drones are remotely piloted aircraft equipped with cameras and sensors that serve as aerial tools capturing real-time information, offering several advantages for managing projects and surveying the progress of construction work.
Site Monitoring and Security: Drones equipped with high-resolution cameras and sensors conduct thorough aerial surveys and inspections of construction sites to improve surveillance, deter theft, prevent vandalism, and restrict unauthorized access.
Project Documentation: They can capture high-quality video footage that can be used to create detailed progress reports, documentation for regulatory compliance, and marketing materials. This visual data acquired aids in transparent communication with the stakeholders.
Safety Inspections in Challenging Environments: By accessing areas beyond human reach, drones become valuable allies in inspecting dilapidated structures and conducting a comprehensive assessment of structural integrity, materials, and architectural details. This enables the identification of potential risks and hazards without exposing human workers to jeopardy.
3D printing, or additive manufacturing, is a method of constructing three-dimensional objects layer by layer from digital models, allowing for the creation of detailed architectural components and, in some cases, complete structures. This process systematically deposits construction-grade materials like concrete, polymers, metals, ceramics, and composite blends, resulting in structures with enhanced strength and intricate geometric features. Unlike traditional construction, 3D printing minimizes material waste by using the necessary amount, making a sustainable contribution. Its adaptability supports on-site and off-site applications, fostering efficiency and controlled manufacturing.
Autonomous (and Semi-Autonomous) Construction Vehicles
Autonomous Construction Vehicles (ACVs) are advanced vehicles capable of performing tasks without human intervention or, in the case of semi-autonomous vehicles, with minimal human support. These vehicles use a combination of sensors, cameras, radar, and other sophisticated software algorithms to navigate and execute specific operations. Within the construction sector, ACVs serve a multifaceted role, extending their application across several critical functions, some of which are as follows.
Excavation Operations: One of the primary purposes of ACVs is in excavation activities. Navigating through sites, they handle the movement of soil and materials, improving the accuracy and speed of tasks like digging, grading, and shaping the terrain.
Logistics and Material Transport: Geared for heavy logistical duties, these machines efficiently transport construction materials, tools, and equipment across the site, reducing the need for manual handling and optimizing the overall construction workflow.
Surveying and Site Inspection: ACVs are equipped with high-precision sensors and LiDAR technology, enabling them to efficiently survey construction sites. They can map terrain, collect data, and contribute to project planning and analysis, accelerating decision-making processes during the planning and design phases.
Exoskeleton Technology: Exoskeletons are wearable robotic devices designed to augment human capabilities, offering several benefits in construction sites’ demanding and physically intensive environments. These devices offer mechanical support to workers, easing the physical strain involved in tasks like lifting, carrying hefty loads, or maneuvering in awkward positions.
By lessening the likelihood of fatigue and musculoskeletal injuries caused by overexertion or repetitive motions, these devices bolster safety on construction sites, proving to be particularly valuable when handling weighty tools or navigating situations that demand maintaining balance and stability.
In conclusion, as humans and machines get closer, a world full of possibilities emerges in industry. This collaboration tackles today’s problems and lays the foundation for an improved future. This synergy now beckons us towards a future where building and infrastructure development reach newer heights.