Safety Will Drive Robotics Adoption in Construction Industry


The construction industry is fairly insulated from the disruptive effects of automation. CB Insights, a market research firm that focuses on technology startups, found that construction workers are among the least likely to be replaced by robotics over the next five to 10 years.

However, there are still about 1.2 million construction jobs at risk, according to the firm.

That doesn’t have to be a bad thing. The industry is already struggling to find skilled workers, and automation can help builders safely complete repetitive, dangerous or difficult tasks.

“If you want to transform the construction industry, … you start with safety,” according to David Bruemmer, CEO and founder of Adaptive Motion Group, and former chief technology officer for 5D Robotics.

RELATED: How AI and IoT are Redefining Smart Homes

Bruemmer told Colorado Builder that by focusing on safety, automation “doesn’t force construction companies to do things necessarily differently” from how they already operate. Too-rapid change is one of the biggest pitfalls for technology firms trying to serve the construction industry.

“Robotics [companies] just don’t understand how devastating it is to make sudden, sweeping changes in processes,” he said.

Bruemmer said that construction equipment outfitted with safety kits similar to the collision-prevention systems on high-end cars are the “low-hanging fruit” for construction tech companies. Sensors can detect a person or object in the path of equipment and either alert the operator or, in the case of fully autonomous equipment, come to a stop.

The difficulty is that “old-school vehicles weren’t designed to be robots,” Bruemmer said. Companies that find a way to overcome that will be most successful in serving builders.

Construction game changers

One contender is Built Robotics. CB Insights identified Built as one of its tech startup gamechangers for 2018. The San Francisco-based firm retrofit a track loader with software and sensors to create an autonomous vehicle. The firm announced in October 2017 that it had raised $15 million in Series A funding, and had completed its first commercial project.

“Our technology addresses some of the core issues facing construction — labor shortages, efficiency and safety,” Built’s founder, Noah Campbell-Ready, said in an email. “Our ATL (autonomous track loader) can do the more dangerous or repetitive aspects of the job, enabling skilled operators to focus on the challenging tasks, and letting contractors complete more work and get more done.”

Campbell-Ready added, “We may lease or sell our technology in the future, but don’t have a specific release date.”

In addition to Built, CB Insights highlighted Victor, New York-based Construction Robotics and Russian firm Apis Cor. Instead of replacing laborers, Construction Robotics aims to make them more productive with its brick-laying robot. The firm’s SAM100 — “semi-automated mason” — robot can lay between four and seven times as many bricks as a human, according to the company.

“This offers contractors and developers approximately a 50% reduction in total costs,” CB Insights analysts noted on a webinar.

Apis Cor is a 3D printing company that can build a 400-square-foot home in less than 24 hours, and for less than $10,000. The printer requires two people to operate it, and can be set up in 30 minutes.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Preparing for Emergency Calls

In our world of third-party warranty management, we have a definitive list of emergency calls that qualify to dispatch a subcontractor.

3D Home Printing Company Moves to Greeley

Alquist 3D, which built the first 3D printed home in the nation, moved to Greeley, thanks to incentives from the city and the state.

Essential Workwear for Construction Professionals

Construction apparel can not only maximize comfort and performance but also help keep workers safe while on the job.

Related articles

Home Tech Innovations for 2024 and Beyond

Though it’s impossible to predict all of what home tech will offer in the future, these are the hot topics I expect customers to focus on.

Power and Networking: The Smart Home’s Foundation

There’s a reason tech-literate folks first ask, “Did you turn it off and back on again?” whenever there’s a problem with a smart home device.

Design: The Most Exciting Trend in Home Technology

The best gadgets blend form and function Close your eyes for a moment and picture what comes to mind...

The Technology Trap

Construction productivity has actually gone down over the last 60 years, while all other industries have increased by more than 150%.