Robotics & Artificial Intelligence

How the Construction Industry Is Benefiting from AI

Artificial Intelligence Woman

Artificial intelligence (AI) has rapidly changed workplace methods across various sectors. But what role has it taken within the construction industry? How has its influence impacted the way we plan and construct buildings?

Machines and robots are deemed to have artificial intelligence upon displaying the “own intelligence” through use of code and algorithms to collect data, process data, and come to a conclusion based off that. This can be incredibly useful in the construction world for such things as predicting how a structure will work based on previous, similar builds, or suggesting a method to combat a problem based on historic solutions.

Areas for artificial intelligence

There are four main areas where artificial intelligence can help in construction:

Planning and design

The creation of construction plans benefit greatly from artificial intelligence. 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.

Prior to this, planning processes were a length procedure, often taking weeks. Now, they can be done in a day. This helps to save firms both time and money in the form of labor.

Helping in the office

AI can also be used to help monitor and control office 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.

Process of construction

With access to databases of information, AI can keep engineers informed on the best routes for construction. 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.

Autonomous site machinery provides another improvement to the worksite too, as the driver can now be outside of the vehicle while it operates in dangerous conditions, such as at a height. Using sensors and GPS, the vehicle can calculate the safest route.

Upon completion

The helping hand doesn’t stop when the project is completed; AI can be used within the building it helped to create. In the US alone, $1.5 billion was invested in 2016 by companies looking to capitalize on this growing market.

Wyn hotels, for example, announced back in 2016 that all of the rooms in its Las Vegas hotel would have an Amazon Echo installed by the end of 2017. These devices can be used for aspects of the room such as lighting, temperature and any audio-visual equipment contained in the room. These systems can also be used within domestic settings, allowing homeowners to control aspects of their home through voice commands and systems that control all electronic components from one device.

Building information modelling

In order to record historical information regarding their construction, building information modelling (BIM) can be incorporated to store data on the structure’s build, the managerial choices during construction, and its demolition.

Virtual assistants (VA) can be used alongside BIM to add a more personal touch to the information delivery. By combining VAs alongside NFC (near-field communication), VAs can be given additional information to the building itself in real-time from various sensors in the building. For example, if there were structural problems with a building, then VAs could inform engineers specifically where the problem was and how it can be fixed.

By working with engineers, VAs and AIs are able to save companies time and money. AIs can also help to replace redundant labor to allow for the industry to make efficiency savings that weren’t possible before this type of technology existed. As the future of AI becomes more of a reality within construction, only time will tell how reliant upon intelligent machines we will have to be in order to construct innovative building designs.

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Paul Tomaszewski is a science & tech writer as well as a programmer and entrepreneur. He is the founder and editor-in-chief of CosmoBC. He has a degree in computer science from John Abbott College, a bachelor's degree in technology from the Memorial University of Newfoundland, and completed some business and economics classes at Concordia University in Montreal. While in college he was the vice-president of the Astronomy Club. In his spare time he is an amateur astronomer and enjoys reading or watching science-fiction. You can follow him on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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