Construction Tech Trends for 2019 and Beyond
Trendsetters and Construction Stars at the Master Builders Australia National Awards
Ancient Profession Moves into the Future
Don't Let Scope Creep Sneak Up On You
What's it Worth to be a Tradie?
Why Building Trust is Essential for Success
Marsden Park's Massive Transformation
Ghost in the Machine: Mining's Driverless Trucks
By Duane Craig
March 20, 2017
Artificial intelligence, augmented reality, hard-baked tablets, and sensors, are already actively at play in construction, or in the background. Here’s what it’s all about, and what’s in store as adoption heats up.
It’s difficult to describe artificial intelligence since there are so many definitions. John McCarthy came up with the phrase in 1955, defining it as “the science and engineering of making intelligent machines.” In 2003, Stuart Russell and Peter Norvig said it was “the study and design of intelligent agents, where an intelligent agent is a system that perceives its environment and takes actions which maximizes its chances of success.“ A year later, Ben Coppin went for the simpler, “systems that act in a way that to any observer would appear to be intelligent.“
Even though the door is wide open for what passes as AI, there’s little doubt about where construction is deploying it. Komatsu has a system that does site surveys using drones. It then compares the aerial survey to the plans supplied to the contractor. From there, the system can exactly account for the work needed and prepare the plans. Next, autonomous machines follow the plans to do the needed cuts, fills and trenching.
There is also a continual buildup of expert systems underway. Working with structural designs that go back half a century, these systems can suggest, review and verify designs. You can also see AI in aspects of building information modeling, and modern scheduling programs. And, as smart buildings collect and analyze information from multiple sensors they help keep the finished structures safer, more efficient and healthier.
Most observers agree that AI used with machines, software and information platforms is going to disrupt construction like nothing that has come before. For example, according to Accenture, AI will take over scheduling, allocating resources and reporting. It will augment what people do so that people can spend their time on tasks requiring judgement, collaboration, creativity and innovation. The effect is that people will be freed from the mundane. People will however need a great deal of training to learn new skills and new ways of working. Many will also need training in how to adapt to change.
The financial news source, Financial Buzz, described augmented and virtual realities as poised for rapid adoption in both consumer and commercial applications. Industrial use accounted for 25% of the AR market in 2015, putting construction in the crosshairs for greater AR adoption in the near term. Already, construction firms use AR for training and helping workers see the expected results of what they are about to build. Owners and clients are participating in design using virtual walkthroughs.
A recently announced partnership between Vuzix Corp. and Toshiba Corp. is aimed at rapidly developing a customized pair of smart glasses. Toshiba has a big footprint in enterprise and industrial markets. Microsoft is skipping the second generation phase of its HoloLens product, opting instead to go directly to a third gen release that will have productivity, business process, intelligent cloud and personal computing features.
Next steps for AR include verifying design in the field, putting crews virtually inside life sized building models, and providing 3D as-builts in real space and time.
Taking advantage of virtual reality and AR in the field gets a bit easier and less costly in the long run when using tough hardware. Expect to see a continuing roll out of ruggedized tablets. Juniper Systems now offers a tablet designed for extreme conditions running Windows 10 and Android. The company says it can handle BIM, and when used with the dock it becomes a complete office computing solution. Another model tablet offered by the company is waterproof and dustproof, with a super bright display and an all day battery.
Just available in March is the Algiz 8X from handheld. It offers LTE and dual-band WLAN for communications. The 8-inch projective capacitive touchscreen is easy to view outdoors. When you use glove mode or rain mode the unit is more useful in cold and wet environments. It has chemically treated glass that survives the dropping of a 64-gram steel ball from 1.2 meters, 10 times. These units have an optional active capacitive stylus, and are standard with Windows 10 Enterprise LTSB. They are also rated under the IP65 standard for dust and water ingression, and they meet MIL-STD-810G.
The internet of connected things continues to proliferate, and construction is on the front lines. From building sensors that record, monitor and adjust systems, to equipment telematics, the footprint of sensors is projected to grow exponentially.
Now, beacons are beginning to show up to handle location and context awareness for all those sensors. These units have 4-year battery lives, and they interact with a wide range of mobile apps. Also on the horizon are wearable devices that monitor personal safety, real-time tracking of materials and components, sensors for monitoring precast beams and bridges, and total construction site monitoring for temperature, humidity, dust, pressure, noise, volatile organic compounds.
Altering Reality on the Jobsite
If only there was a go-to template or formula you could follow in order to guarantee success in the bidding process. Long story short, there is no one right answer or solution. However, that doesn’... Read More
Construction work as we well know is a team effort, requiring the synchronization of workers, equipment and materials. And just as construction wo... Read More
Listen in to this free webinar with Carey Larsen, Social Marketing Manager at Procore, Bob Gardner, CEO of Gardner Builders, and Jessica Stoe, Bran... Read More
At a rural Ohio job site, Wieland Construction and its subcontractors are managing progress entirely from mobile devices — an investment they say h... Read More
The majority of project leaders and teams on site today still utilize outdated, manual tools and processes—even though there are plenty of technolo... Read More
Keeping workers safe on road construction sites is an ongoing problem, underlined by the fact that the number of fatalities at these sites increase... Read More
Automation has improved by leaps and bounds over the last decade, and the technology is proving viable as more companies start to incorporate some ... Read More