Robots Taking Over the World? The Construction World, Maybe.

By Theresa Cangialosi

Do you have a shortage of working hands available to help with your project? Ever wonder if the automation of aircraft, bulldozers, and excavators to program the early foundational work on construction sites could benefit your organization? In a recent article, Business Insider discussed how experts believe one-third of our jobs will be taken over by robots by 2025. For those who fear that robots may be taking over the world, or at least taking over our jobs, you may not deem the solution suggested in this blog post acceptable. However, the answer to the shortage of construction workers, deemed an “epidemic” by Jerry Howard, CEO of the National Association of Home Builders, may just be the drone. This aerial robot is capable of both remotely controlled flight (like a regular RC aircraft) and fully autonomous flight, controlled by sensors, GPS, and onboard computers. How specifically can drones help us on a construction site, you might ask?

According to a recent article in MIT Technology Review, many construction-equipment makers have begun to incorporate drones on construction sites to improve productivity. As the article discusses, drones are managing the site of a lavish new downtown stadium for the Sacramento Kings in California, speeding up the process and automatically flag slow progress. Drones can work on the site, completing tasks previously performed by workers, leaving more human hands and minds to focus on other aspects of construction and manage machines from the office. With drones, human operators gain the ability to monitor progress from a desk and can jump in and take control of a machine if and when necessary.

Not only can drones help complete the typical tasks human construction workers would perform, but they can improve workplace productivity by leaving more hands for other jobs and often complete the tasks of construction workers more efficiently. Measuring large construction sites by air is much easier, for example, considering two people could measure an entire site in a week, or drones could complete the task in one to two hours. Not to mention the fact that drones can remain small and agile, flying around with onboard high-res cameras and relaying progress shorts and aerial surveys to construction teams on the ground and send images to team members’ mobile phones – while humans cannot. While the idea of a drone-powered world is still entirely new to the majority of construction sites, drone technology is undoubtedly providing a competitive edge to companies who have successfully adopted it.

Companies that have adopted drones at their workplace use their equipment and resources more efficiently, are able to communicate better through accurate maps and data, and are given a highly quantitative means of measuring their progress against their schedule. As the technology becomes increasingly more affordable and prevalent in the workplace, the benefits are becoming harder to ignore. Do you think drones will eventually take over the construction world? How can your organization benefit from utilizing drones on the construction site?

Theresa Cangialosi is general manager and vice president of North America for the Bullitt Group

Have an idea for a guest blog for Construction Today? Contact [email protected] or [email protected].  

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