Novel construction robotic system could lead to better buildings in less time

Emerging robotics technology in the field of construction opens the future path to follow in order to obtain a quality sustainable building, reducing costs, times, and production processes. We recently informed you about one such device – called Brick Laying Robot – that was put into operation at a construction site to replace people and ensure safety and health. On a construction site, there are many unknown factors that a construction robot must be able to take into account effectively. This requires much more advanced sensing and reasoning technologies than are commonly used in a manufacturing environment.

Innovators at Purdue University have developed and are testing a new building, a novel construction robotic system that reduces the amount of time and equipment needed to complete a project. The robot uses an innovative mechanical design with advances in computer vision sensing technology to work in a construction setting. The technology was developed with the support of the National Science Foundation.

The custom end-effector design of the Purdue team allows for materials to be both placed and secured in a single operation using the same robotic arm, limiting the amount of equipment needed to complete a given task. The computer algorithms developed for this project allow the robotic system to sense building elements, adapt them to building information modeling (BIM) data in a variety of environments, and track obstacles or safety threats.

According to Jiansong Zhang, an assistant professor of construction management technology in the Purdue Polytechnic Institute, the construction robotic system would help address workforce shortages in the construction industry by automating key construction operations.

By basing the sensing for our robotic arm around computer vision technology, rather than more limited-scope and expensive sensing systems, we have the capability to complete many sensing tasks with a single affordable sensor,” Zhang said. “This allows us to implement a more robust and versatile system at a lower cost.

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