How robotics is changing the Construction industry


Construction industry is among the few industries that have lagged behind in adopting technology. A glance at other industries shows the extent to which digitization is turning around service delivery and improving efficiency on projects. Think Act: Digitization in the Construction Industry report by Roland Berger, reveals that 93 percent of construction industry players agree that digitization will affect every process in the industry. While only 6 percent of construction companies make full use of digital planning tools, 100 percent of building materials firms believe they have not yet exhausted their digital potential, the report notes.

Today, however, the design, construction, operation and use of robots in construction is helping humans deliver on projects in record time. Robots, drones, autonomous vehicles, 3D printing, and exoskeletons- the metal frameworks that human beings wear to increase their strength and endurance while working, are now being used to get the work done. Artificial intelligence and machine learning now delivers unprecedented levels of data driven support.

Here are some examples of how robotics is transforming construction.

Construction robotics building walls  

For more than 6,000 years, human beings have gone the manual way of physically laying blocks and bricks to construct walls, foundations, columns and other structures. The process can be cumbersome, energy intensive and time consuming. But there’s a new technology revolutionizing this craft, offering an alternative, efficient means in building. FBR, an Australian company that develops building machines has innovated a new, efficient technology with its new development- the Hadrian X, which is the world’s first autonomous bricklaying robot, capable of building brick or block structures outdoors using a 3D CAD (Computer aided design) model without human intervention.

The robot uses Dynamic Stabilization Technology, which means it can react to wind, vibrations and other environmental factors in real time so it can precisely lay each brick. Blocks are loaded onto the back of Hadrian X, then automatically unpacked from the pallets, cut to size using the internal saw, transported through a telescoping boom, applied with adhesive and placed with precision.  Unlike the mortar used in masonry to fill gaps between the bricks and blocks, Hadrian X’s model uses adhesives, which reportedly dry much faster and is stronger.

FBR says its technology can build a three bedroom, two bathroom home in less than three days. “Hadrian X functions at night as well, enabling around the clock construction. It reduces waste produced on a typical building site too. Offcuts of blocks are stored internally and used later in the build.”

“As the backbreaking labour component of bricklaying is taken care of, no workers need to enter the working zone of Hadrian while in operation. Because the structure has been built accurately to the plan, finishings are applied to the structure to make it a home.”

In October 2020, the company successfully finished construction of a two-storey structure using Hadrian X.

  • TyBots: An autonomous rebar tying robot

It can be a draining and tiring task tying rebars manually while constructing a mega structure such as a highway, dam or bridge. It will require many workers on site, will be time consuming and a physically demanding job. Unfortunately, this was the common way of doing things until robotic technology was introduced. The invention of TyBots and Ironbots have since provided an alternative solution to the industry, offering convenience and efficiency. 

TyBots and Ironbots are autonomous rebar tying robots that tie intersections of dec rebars continuously, enabling crews to accomplish double the work in half the time. Since the multiple intersections have to be tied continuously but meticulously, some intersections were forgotten in the manual process, which would compromise on quality of projects. With the new technology, the tools allow bending, pulling and twisting of the thin wire ties to be accomplished as quickly and efficiently as possible.             

  • Employing imaging technology

According to, construction robotics and drones using sensors such as lidar with Global Positioning System (GPS) technologies can provide vital information about a worksite. Along with AI (artificial intelligence), it can help predict what tasks are required.

Doxel Inc, a U.S artificial intelligence company located in California, specializes in construction productivity and project management. The company has developed a small tread-based robot that enables project managers gather vital information on the worksite, as well as inform on the tasks required. The machine scans and assesses the progress of a construction project by traversing the site. The information it collects is used to detect potential errors and problems early. For example, the system can detect that a section of the wall/roof is sunk or not properly aligned, and the early detection can allow for the proper correction well before costly revisions are needed. Doxel’s disruptive technology that enables detection and tracking of construction project problems has enabled the company to be listed by Forbes among America’s 50 most promising artificial intelligence companies.

  • Remote-controlled technology
Wevolver paintcopter is a robot that helps in painting

Technology gradual take-over of other industries is slowly creeping into the construction industry. Internet of Things (delivery of services through the interconnectedness in computing devices), additive manufacturing and digitization are gradually contributing to the growth of the industry.

Painting drones are an excellent example of just how technology can be used remotely via a tablet or smartphone to complete hitherto bigger painting tasks. PaintCopter, an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (drone) is a classic case of a machine developed to manage industrial or large scale painting tasks.  According to tech website Wevolver, PaintCopter is a quadrotor (type of helicopter with four rotors) that has been custom fitted with an arm and a spray gun on a pan-tilt mechanism. To enable long deployment times for long industrial painting tasks, the site reports, power and paint are delivered by lines from an external unit.

  • Surveillance, surveying and inspection of worksites
Drone in a construction site

Surveillance, surveying and inspection of projects and sites is a key ritual in construction. Project managers and supervisors will at some point before or after completion of a project walk the site to either survey or inspect work to ensure meticulous performance. Nothing helps them do this better than construction robotics and drones.

Aerial drones and ground-based robots can survey a worksite and gather multiple types of data, depending on the sensors used, explains robotics website

“While donning a VR headset, for instance, viewers can see a live feed of captured video from the drone. More importantly, that immersive experience is provided remotely, so project managers don’t even have to be on the job site to get an accurate assessment. The video feed is also recorded for playback at a later time, providing yet another resource.”

According to the online publication, the global market for construction robotics presents huge opportunity for developers and suppliers; the market could grow from $22.7million in 2018 to $226million by 2025  


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