Augmented Reality (AR)
Augmented reality (AR) is a digital information overlay that augments a view of the actual world. Construction personnel can look at a job site with additional information put directly on top of the actual world by utilising a mobile device with AR capabilities. This technology can be used to automate measurements, visualise modifications, and provide safety information.
Construction wearables have various productivity benefits, but they may soon gain traction due of their potential for improving safety. Innovations in the wearables section include smart boots which can detect collisions, smart hard hats which can detect micro sleeps to reduce accidents and power gloves which can increase dexterity and strength.
Exoskeletons, also known as exosuits, are wearable devices with motorised joints that give additional support and power during repeated motions such as bending, lifting, and grasping. While exoskeletons were initially used in rehabilitation programs, they are now gaining popularity as a tool to minimise injuries and enhance the efficiency for construction workers. Some exoskeletons are driven by electricity, while others merely disperse weight around the body; nevertheless, they all provide benefits for employees who undertake strenuous tasks.
Construction robots are still a long way from taking over the sector, but a variety of ideas and suggestions are being considered as the industry grapples with labour shortages and the need for social distancing. Some key innovations that we may see in this area in the coming years include:
- Factory robots: Factory robots can do a single task flawlessly and repeatedly, such as simple manufacturing jobs.
- Collaborative robots: Collaborative robots can be employed on a job site to help a human partner in various ways, such as by transporting tools or equipment.
- Fully autonomous robots: Fully autonomous robots (which already exist in some form today) can scan the surroundings and do complicated tasks with tools independently, similar to the robots of science fiction.
Drones have already had an impact on the construction industry, and their influence is expected to continue to rapidly expand. Small, camera-equipped flying drones are capable of lowering the prices of procedures that were previously prohibitively expensive. A few of the key ways that drones can be used on construction sites include:
- Topographic maps: Mapping is essential before beginning construction. Aerial drones can scan large areas of land very fast, decreasing mapping expenses by up to 95%.
- Equipment tracking: On a large project site, purchased or rented equipment can easily be misplaced, but drones can be used automatically keep track of any equipment on site.
- Security surveillance: When no one is working, job sites are prone to theft of supplies and equipment, but drones can monitor a site even when no humans are there.
These are just a few examples of the ways in which technological innovations might revolutionise how the construction industry works in the future.