A few years ago, artificial intelligence (AI) was just a story you find in sci-fi novels. Today, it is a reality we live with every day, from our news feed to our online shopping software, AI is no longer a fanciful concept of the future. It is now something we experience and benefits from today. Zooming in to the construction industry, the data generated in construction sites is growing. AI is where machines exhibit their own intelligence through using algorithms to solve problems using inputted data. Data generated from images captured from mobile devices, drone videos, security sensors, building information modelling (BIM), and others have become a pool of information.
Utilisation of AI and robotics in construction
- Planning with equipment: Artificial intelligence is used in the creation of construction plans. Autonomous equipment is considered as AI as it is aware of its surroundings and is capable of navigation without human input. In the planning stages, AI machinery can survey a proposed construction site and gather enough information to create 3D maps, blueprints and construction plans.
- Administrative roles: Once construction has begun, AI is being used to manage the project and control tasks. For example, workers can input sick days, vacancies and sudden departures into a data system and it will adapt the project accordingly. The AI will understand that the task must be moved to another employee and will do so on its own accord.
- Construction methodology: AI database systems are now helping to inform engineers on how specific projects should be constructed. For example, if engineers were working on a proposed new bridge, AI systems would be able to advise and present a case for how the bridge should be constructed. This is based on past projects over the last 50 years, as well as verifying pre-existing blueprints for the design and implementation stages of the project. By having this information to hand, engineers can make crucial decisions based on evidence that they may not have previously had at their disposal.
- Post-construction: Once buildings have been constructed, whether they are used for commercial purposes or it is a development of new houses, AI systems can be used inside the structure.
The added value Change AI brings to Construction
With the availability of data, AI-based applications have been finding more utility in construction.
Generative Design- Generative design is a form-finding process that can mimic nature’s evolutionary approach to design. Computer scientists have found ways to aid the building design process. It usually starts with clearly specifying the design goals and then explore innumerable possible permutations of a solution to find the best option. It becomes clearer with an example.
Risk Mitigation – Risk evaluation and mitigation happens every day on a construction site. There are hundreds of subcontractors working on different trades simultaneously; there are thousands of issues which get created and managed and everything is changing constantly.
Safety– Construction safety is the number one priority across all job sites. The BIM 360 IQ focused on understanding the behaviour and context around safety issues and then bringing it to the attention of safety managers. The IQ application automatically scans all safety issues on a job site and attaches a tag to them indicating whether it could lead to a potential fatality. Emerging Trends of Artificial Intelligence in Construction
Safety sensors- The internet of things has automated our home to make our home more energy efficient. Similarly, the internet of things is automating job sites to make them safer. Wearable sensors with abilities of identifying the location of your workers and provide any alerts if a worker slips or falls.
Drones- Deploying drones and drone mapping software such as DroneDeploy drastically cuts down the time to gather accurate surveys maps and aerial images of a job site. This can be used to track progress without having to be on the job site. Additionally, the aerial images provide project managers with an additional perspective to identify issues and conflicts they may not view from the ground.
Autonomous vehicles– Major tech companies and car manufacturers are developing self-driving vehicles. While Uber and Google conduct pilot projects of self-driving cars, Caterpillar has released a line of autonomous mining equipment used for dozing, drilling and hauling.
Robots– Following autonomous vehicles, robots have started to infiltrate our home (hello Roomba) and the construction site.