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Robots Invade the Const. Site

November 20, 2020
Construction robot.

Canvas, a company that has built a robot using artificial intelligence that’s capable of drywalling, has almost as much artistry as a skilled human worker according to an article in Wired. The robot has been deployed at several construction sites in recent months, including the new Harvey Milk Terminal at San Francisco International Airport, and an office building in San Francisco. 

The four-wheeled robot navigates an unfinished building carrying laser scanners and a robotic arm fitted to a vertical platform. When placed in a room, the robot scans the unfinished walls using lidar, then smooths the surface before applying a layer of drywall. Sensors help it steer clear of human workers. 

According to Wired, Canvas is part of a boom in construction technology. Autonomous vehicles made by Volvo move materials and tools around some large sites. Technology from Built Robotics lets construction machinery operate autonomously. Robotic equipment can also take over specialized tasks such as welding, drilling, and brick-laying. 

Doxel, based in Redwood City, California, makes a mobile robot that scans work sites so software can calculate how the project is progressing. A four-legged Boston Dynamites robot called Spot is being tested for the same purpose at a number of sites. Buildots, based in Tel Aviv, Israel, sells software that uses cameras fitted to the helmets of site managers, which automatically capture a site and process the images to identify discrepancies between plans and ongoing work. 

A McKinsey report last month predicts a "big shakeout" across the construction industry over the next decade, with companies adopting technologies from the manufacturing world. The pandemic is accelerating the shift too, by making it more difficult to bring workers to a site.

Source: Built Robotics 

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