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Description


“Robotics is the science of designing, building and applying robots. It is a solid discipline of study that
incorporates the background, knowledge, and creativity of mechanical, electrical, computer, industrial
and manufacturing engineering”. In 1979, the Robotics Industries Association defined a robot as “a
reprogrammable, multifunctional manipulator designed to move material, parts, tools, or specialized
devices through various programmed motions for the performance of a variety of tasks”.

Most major industries have already made use of robotic technology. Robotics have transformed the
production system in the automatic and aircraft industries, and is currently making its way in the
medical field. The challenge with the construction sector is that it tends to be less structured and
standardized. However, advancements in robotic control technologies, sensory capabilities, and the
emergence of artificial intelligence, along with the development of an increasingly structured
approach in the sector, are making robotic technologies more viable. Examples of robots in the
construction industry include: demolition robots, to bricklaying robots, welding robots, roadwork
robots and forklift robots. Robots would be beneficial for the industry: they would enhance
productivity, increase the quality of deliverables, and reduce security and safety concerns.

Levels of Autonomy and Automation


Robotic systems can have varying degrees of autonomy. Robots with a low degree of autonomy require detailed pre-programming or detailed real-time operation of a human person. Robots with a medium degree of autonomy only require supervision and an operator only has to assign tasks for which the robot autonomously finds sufficient solutions. Robots with a high degree of autonomy are capable of performing tasks and making decisions without major human interference. Especially in the area of construction and building technology the degree of autonomy of a system plays an important role as e.g. construction sites and service environments within buildings often provide dynamic environments and unstructured, complex work tasks. One can address this problem by modifying or structuring the environment or work task on the one hand or by advancing robot control technology or the application of artificial intelligence on the other.

In general, the degree of autonomy of a robotic system is closely correlated to its work tasks it can perform. Work tasks can be classified into work tasks which are structured and standardized on the one hand and unstructured and not standardized work tasks on the other hand. For example, on the lowest level, resources and materials are processed using robots in standardized conditions. However, the assembly of buildings is done in a less structured environment and thus needs robotic systems which are more flexible. Up to today, it was difficult to apply humanoids to other autonomous complex robot technology in the construction industry. Yet, advancements in structuring environments and information about the environment for robotic systems on the one hand, and robot control technology and artificial intelligence on the other hand, lead to the fact that all highly autonomous systems can increasingly be applied in the construction sector.

Benefits and Barriers


  • Improved product quality: very precise and accurate which allows for higher product quality.
  • Improved quality of life: Relieve workers of tedious jobs; humans become bored and inattentive in such jobs, making them prone to accidents. Robots do not have fatigue. They are better in dangerous situations. Improve HSE.
  • Reduction of Labour costs: Do not need any breaks or wages or compensation. They do not question assignments.
  • Not as complicated as a human: humans have more end effectors and more sophisticated sensory perception.

Basic Construction Activities



No.

Activity

Description

Examples of application

1

Positioning

Placing a large object at a given location

Erection of steel beams, precast elements, formwork, scaffolding

2

Connecting

Connecting a component to an existing structure

Bolting, Nailing, Welding, taping

3

Attaching

Positioning and attaching a small object to an existing structure

Attaching hangers, inserts, partition boards, sliding, sheathing

4

Finishing

Applying continuous mechanical treatment to a given surface

Troweling, grinding, brushing, smoothing

5

Casting

Discharing a liquid or semiliquid substance on a given surface

Painting, plastering, spreading mortar or glue

6

Concreting

Casting of concrete into molds

Casting of columns, walls, beams, slabs

7

Building

Placing bricks next to or on top of one another with a sidered pattern

Blocks, bricks, or stone masonry

8

Placing

Placing small flat pieces one next to the other to attain a continuous surface

Tiling, wood planks, flooring

9

Covering

Unrolling sheets of material over a given surface

Vinyl or carpet flooring, roof insulation, wallpapering

10

Jointing

Sealing joints between vertical elements

Jointing between precast elements between partition boards

Nonetheless, many construction tasks require the performance of more than one basic activity. For instance, the installation and finishing of wallboard would require the following activities:

  • Positioning the wallboard

  • Connecting the wallboard (to partition framing), including taping.

  • Coating the taped joints.

  • Finishing the taped joints.

  • Coating (painting) the wall board.

Case Study: SAM, the brick laying robot


The robot uses a set of algorithms, sensors that measure incline angles, velocity and orientation and a laser. The laser moves up and down the wall as the work progresses to act as an anchor point for the robot, based on which it knows where to lay the bricks.
SAM can lay about 800 too 1,200 bricks a day compared to a human mason who can lay 300 to 500 bricks a day. That means that SAM along with a mason can complete the same work of four or more masons on the job. Although SAM’s retail price is at $500,000, we expect that its price will go down in the future – as it always does in technology. As that happens, we expect that it’ll become more widely adopted. SAM however, gives us a glimpse of the potential for other robots and what they may do for the construction industry.

Read more at:

Business Value Proposition



Other Industries



Related Technologies


Robotics -Ground

Brick laying

Fabrication: Mechanical Piping

Welding

Layout Robot

Modularlization

Material Lifting Robot

Wearable robot

News and References



Levels of Autonomy and Automation


Robotic systems can have varying degrees of autonomy. Robots with a low degree of autonomy require detailed pre-programming or detailed real-time operation of a human person. Robots with a medium degree of autonomy only require supervision and an operator only has to assign tasks for which the robot autonomously finds sufficient solutions. Robots with a high degree of autonomy are capable of performing tasks and making decisions without major human interference. Especially in the area of construction and building technology the degree of autonomy of a system plays an important role as e.g. construction sites and service environments within buildings often provide dynamic environments and unstructured, complex work tasks. One can address this problem by modifying or structuring the environment or work task on the one hand or by advancing robot control technology or the application of artificial intelligence on the other.


In general, the degree of autonomy of a robotic system is closely correlated to its work tasks it can perform. Work tasks can be classified into work tasks which are structured and standardized on the one hand and unstructured and not standardized work tasks on the other hand. For example, on the lowest level, resources and materials are processed using robots in standardized conditions. However, the assembly of buildings is done in a less structured environment and thus needs robotic systems which are more flexible. Up to today, it was difficult to apply humanoids to other autonomous complex robot technology in the construction industry.  Yet, advancements in structuring environments and information about the environment for robotic systems on the one hand, and robot control technology and artificial intelligence on the other hand, lead to the fact that all highly autonomous systems can increasingly be applied in the construction sector.

Basic Construction activities:



No.

Activity

Description

Examples of application

1

Positioning

Placing a large object at a given location

Erection of steel beams, precast elements, formwork, scaffolding

2

Connecting

Connecting a component to an existing structure

Bolting, Nailing, Welding, taping

3

Attaching

Positioning and attaching a small object to an existing structure

Attaching hangers, inserts, partition boards, sliding, sheathing

4

Finishing

Applying continuous mechanical treatment to a given surface

Troweling, grinding, brushing, smoothing

5

Casting

Discharing a liquid or semiliquid substance on a given surface

Painting, plastering, spreading mortar or glue

6

Concreting

Casting of concrete into molds

Casting of columns, walls, beams, slabs

7

Building

Placing bricks next to or on top of one another with a sidered pattern

Blocks, bricks, or stone masonry

8

Placing

Placing small flat pieces one next to the other to attain a continuous surface

Tiling, wood planks, flooring

9

Covering

Unrolling sheets of material over a given surface

Vinyl or carpet flooring, roof insulation, wallpapering

10

Jointing

Sealing joints between vertical elements

Jointing between precast elements between partition boards


Case Study: SAM, the brick laying robot


SAM, the semi-automated mason, debuted in 2015, and works alongside a human mason. The robot, which consists of a standard 6-axis industrial robot arm mounted to a track system with a conveyer belt style feeder of bricks does the heavy lifting: it picks up bricks, applies mortar and places them in their designated location. The human assists the robot by cleaning up excess mortar, setting up the worksite, and doing the tricky bits such as the corners.


The robot uses a set of algorithms, sensors that measure incline angles, velocity and orientation and a laser. The laser moves up and down the wall as the work progresses to act as an anchor point for the robot, based on which it knows where to lay the bricks.


SAM can lay about 800 too 1,200 bricks a day compared to a human mason who can lay 300 to 500 bricks a day. That means that SAM along with a mason can complete the same work of four or more masons on the job. Although SAM’s retail price is at $500,000, we expect that its price will go down in the future – as it always does in technology. As that happens, we expect that it’ll become more widely adopted. SAM however, gives us a glimpse of the potential for other robots and what they may do for the construction industry.  


https://www.technologyreview.com/s/540916/robots-lay-three-times-as-many-bricks-as-construction-workers/


http://www.globalconstructionreview.com/news/sam-bricklaying-r7o7b7ot-could-be-yours-500000/


http://hackaday.com/2015/09/07/brick-laying-robot-does-it-better/


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SummaryExamples of robots in the construction industry include: demolition robots, to bricklaying robots, welding robots, roadwork robots and forklift robots.
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