nt isn’t using any of the machines on its projects.
“We’re cautious about introducing robots into our job sites because you really have to design your work to that,” Barrett said, explaining that robots could disrupt workflows.
Lorenzo argued that construction robots will only really take off when they’re equipped with AI and can safely navigate construction sites. “Once we get to the point where robots are able to analyze a situation and actually see what’s in front of them, that’s probably when we’ll have robots on the job site,” he said.
“At this point in time it’s really very much path-driven robotics where one robot is used for demo, one robot is used for bricklaying, et cetera,” Lorenzo added.
The deeper concern for the construction industry — not to mention for the broader economy and workforce — is what smarter robots would mean for employment.
PricewaterhouseCoopers recently estimated that 38 percent of all U.S. jobs are at risk of being lost to automation by 2030 — a glaring statistic with serious implications for real estate. And, according to a recent report by the public policy think tank Center for an Urban Future, painting, construction and maintenance has the sixth-highest potential for automation among 25 major occupations in New York.
Jose Cruz, director of virtual design and construction at the construction services firm UA Builders Group, predicted that in the coming decade the construction industry will see more machines doing repetitive tasks, such as laying bricks, at sites that are still overseen by human workers. New York-based Construction Robotics already produces the bricklaying robot dubbed SAM100 (short for semiautonomous mason), which has a robotic arm that takes bricks from a tray, applies mortar and places them on a wall without human involvement.)
“I think right now construction robotics is in its nascent stages.” Cruz said.
Check out the complete version of this cover story in the February 2018 issue
Tags: aecom, Tech
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