Construction is among the least automated industries in the United States. And that’s a problem, because in an industry plagued by worker shortages, robots wouldn’t be displacing humans, they’d be filling in where there are no people to be found.
In the video, the robot (directed, it should be noted, by humans) builds one of the DFAB HOUSE’s undulating walls from reinforced concrete. The bulky machine is mounted on rubber caterpillar tracks and uses a long pneumatic arm to connect steel-wire mesh into a frame that humans can fill with concrete to create a load-bearing wall in the DFAB house. The house is arranged with 3D printed designsand Internet of Things devices.
The DFAB HOUSE is one of few projects or concepts in construction that relies heavily on automation, which could be a welcome sign for the industry as a whole. In February 2017, some 200,000 American construction jobs were left open. Unlike other competitive industries where workers struggle to find a place, construction has trouble finding qualified workers to fill empty roles. And a McKinsey Global Institute report, also released in February noted that the productivity of those who are working in the field has been more or less stalled since the 1940s.
Incorporating more automated technology into the process could reduce costs and fill empty jobs. British construction firm Balfour Beatty is banking on this tech and others likely are, too. This week, the firm told construction magazine BuildingCothat someday soon, drones will send instructions to robots in the ground to maximize efficiency. Humans will still be involved, it anticipates, but remotely, relying on 3D visualizations and data collected on site to guide their work.
Subscribe to our FREE online news service dedicated to producing essential up to date news for the construction, building, and design community.