Artificial intelligence and its effects on the construction industry

Machines and robotics are filtering into the construction industry with great complexity and capabilities. Armed with ever-more complex algorithms, machines have the required level of artificial intelligence to be able to carry out tasks such as bricklaying, or help collate data for design and planning engineers.

Oasys, building design software specialists, look at the different ways AI is being used by the construction industry to improve completion times, working practices, and frequency of errors.

Categories of AI

The construction industry harnesses AI and robotics through the following four categories:

For planning

AI is used in the planning stages of construction. Autonomous equipment is considered as AI as it is aware of its surroundings and is capable of navigation without human input. In the planning stages, AI machinery can survey a proposed construction site and gather enough information to create 3D maps, blueprints and construction plans.

Work that once took weeks can now be finished in a day. This helps to save firms both time and money in the form of labour.

For managing

Flexible and adaptable, AI can be used at an administrative level to help manage and problem-solve issues. For example, workers can input sick days, vacancies and sudden departures into a data system and it will adapt the project accordingly. The AI will understand that the task must be moved to another employee and will do so on its own accord.

For construction

AI now efficiently updates engineers on the required processes for a project’s construction. For example, if engineers were working on a proposed new bridge, AI systems would be able to advise and present a case for how the bridge should be constructed. This is based on past projects over the last 50 years, as well as verifying pre-existing blueprints for the design and implementation stages of the project. By having this information to hand, engineers can make crucial decisions based on evidence that they may not have previously had at their disposal.

An improvement of safety and efficiency comes with autonomous vehicles, which can work without the aid of a driver. Using sensors and GPS, the vehicle can calculate the safest route.

Post – construction

AI systems are even used in structures after the completion of the project. In the US alone, $1.5 billion was invested in 2016 by companies looking to capitalise on this growing market.

AI systems were implemented into Wynn’s Las Vegas hotel, with an announcement that each room would have an Amazon Echo feature by the end of 2017. These devices can be used for aspects of the room such as lighting, temperature and any audio-visual equipment contained in the room. These systems can also be used within domestic settings, allowing homeowners to control aspects of their home through voice commands and systems that control all electronic components from one device.

BIM: building information modelling and retrospective assessment

Using building information modelling (BIM), a building’s information can be stored even after its demolition.

Virtual assistants (VAs) use the information stored and collected by BIMs to inform in a more conversational way. By combining VAs alongside NFC (near-field communication), VAs can be given additional information to the building itself in real-time from various sensors in the building. For example, if there were structural problems with a building, then VAs could inform engineers specifically where the problem was and how it can be fixed.

All in all, artificial intelligence offers many routes for the construction industry to save both time and money on its projects. As the future of AI becomes more of a reality within construction, only time will tell how reliant upon intelligent machines we will have to be in order to construct innovative building designs.