Are Robots Poised to Revolutionize Construction?
A paper from the Technical University of Munich by T. Bock, T. Linner and W. Ikeda, looked at the current advancements in robotics and categorized them as to how they could impact the construction industry in the future. Some of the technologies might still require further advancements within artificial intelligence to be viable within the ever changing landscape of construction. Not to mention the issue, that if some companies are having a hard time purchasing work boots for employees, I wonder how much harder it would be to validate a full blown robotic exoskeleton. Nonetheless, as robotics are making headway within the aviation, automotive, farming and medical fields, there is bound to be some eventual penetration into the construction field.
Power Pedal – a power augmenting robot, used to amplify the power in human legs several times that of their current output. The main possibilities include lifting precast tilt-up wall, as well as performing non-routine heavy lifting requiring intelligence. The obstacle of walking around a muddy and un-even construction site carrying something heavy would be a major hurdle in terms of adoption.
Liteye LE-700 – primarily used in military applications to provide increased situational awareness, Liteye LE-700 is a wearable computer that augments a user’s sight, hearing and cognition abilities. This device allows for monitoring on-site workers or increased spatial awareness when operating within a confined or cramped space, as well as providing health data which could be monitored by another worker off-site. Its future in construction could include the ability to combine 3D BIM CAD drawings and allow on-site and dynamic drawing referencing for contractors.
Walking Assist Device with Bodyweight Support System – this aptly named robot, built by Honda based on their ASIMO model, provides reinforcing strength to the legs and is meant to operate in the background without being noticed. The device is a sensor and motion augmentation that monitors the effort being exerted by the legs and kicks-in to assist in walking, traversing stairs, crouching or standing. The device is currently being used for Honda factory workers, but possible future construction applications range from assisting the business development team in standing during trade-shows to allowing emergency workers to work longer in remediating a disaster.Continued on the next page