For quite some time, using robots at construction sites was being considered and even being pondered upon. Laying bricks, mixing cement, sorting materials, assembling scaffolding trusses or assisting workers with these tasks in markets where employment in the labor segment isn’t abundant; such a notion was thought of and was practical in some ways.
However, to many, it brought feelings of skepticism, and many were even associating this with the apocalypse. In fact, some even were reminded of excerpts of Isaac Asimov’s novels. Yet, advances in construction are evident.
Are robots detrimental to the construction industry?
Depending on the kind of work being done at construction sites, some countries used robots as a testing thing to see how they fared. Though they had employees to get errands like getting things for snacks from the nearby shop, these robots worked at construction sites.
Usage of robotics in some industrial and business applications isn’t that bad but somehow ethical ramifications and concerns have been rising. Some companies have been deliberately adding robots to curtail costs of using human employees.
But there is something even better. Robots are being used to aid humans in going to places where a human cannot go. Amputees are utilizing robotic prosthetics to help them do the things they once did.
Robotic heat welders have been able to carry out jobs at most factories easily whilst Remote controlled robots have been able to defuse bombs and have been used by construction companies for demolition activities too.
Role of robots in construction
Thankfully robots haven’t fully taken over human roles but are augmenting them in every possible way. In construction, critics argued that using robotics can be unfair because human labor would be rendered unemployed if robots are deployed in construction projects. However, robots have the potential to ease their work.
The most likely scenario to happen is that robots will help augment human tasks. Cement mixers mix cement and concrete separately and robots will help humans make the right and needed mix to ensure consistency.
Robots can help improve productivity by helping labor shift bricks and other materials plus equipment, and even help physically impaired workers in carrying out tasks even more smoothly. Moreover, human labor would add to existing capabilities of robots, who would then be able to help finish work when labor is in shortage.
Existing capabilities of robots and labor shortages can lead to work getting done. When robots can do menial and redundant work, this gives human labor the chance to focus their work on core tasks at hand.
If robots are used ethically and properly at construction sites, then dispute avoidance will become much easier to conduct. Usage of robots at construction sites is becoming disputed.
Checking out bricklaying robots and robotic systems at construction sites
Semi-automated masonry (SAM) robot systems
The SAM robot systems were developed by construction Robotics. Their product intends to work together with masons and other employees at construction sites. This can result in reduced expenses, amplified productivity and improvements in quality of work as well.
It helps remove strenuous work by conducting tasks such as brick lifting, application of mortar, brick placement, cement application and the like. Masons can aid these robots in fine tuning each task properly and also making sure excess mortar is cleaned, no material is wasted and everything is going properly.
Construction Robotics also produces the Material Unit Lift Enhancer (MULE) robot systems for helping in lifting and placing heavy materials on construction sites. This system is also known to help improve worker safety and productivity.
The MULE and SAM robotic systems have been used altogether at construction sites helping workers and masons conduct a large number of tasks with complete precision. Hotels, university buildings and other top-notch facilities like stadiums and warehouses were made using their help.
Prototype of the Hadrian X Robot System
Fastbrick Robotics introduced the Hadrian X Robot system last year. It is still a prototype bricklaying tool which is touted to lay 1,000 bricks in one hour. It can in fact help complete making a house in approximately two days by helping lay paths for wiring, plumbing and doors plus spaces for ventilation shafts and windows.
Self-driving trucks and remote-controlled heavy equipment
Crash trucks equipped with thinners have been used in highway construction work for quite some time. Both motorists and workers are aided by such machines. These trucks help workers paint the roads nicely and prevent accidents with motorists too. They have even helped fill potholes with the needed materials.
Kratos and Micro Systems are companies which partnered with Royal Truck and Equipment to create self-driving crash trucks to help conduct road works at night to create more convenience for motorists. Yet, these trucks need humans to ensure things are done right and nothing goes awry.
These remote-controlled trucks have GPS navigation and can also be alternatively led b y a lead vehicle which can transmit signals and information to crash truck for turning, painting, braking and further works.
Future of robots in construction – what does the future hold?
Industry experts are hopeful that proper usage of robots can help prevent prolongation claims and give construction companies the much-needed edge in their work. Furthermore, they also hope robots are ethically deployed to prevent any unnecessary disputes.