Artificial Intelligence will become an inherent part of designing, constructing and using buildings of the future. By harnessing robotics, construction managers can utilise intelligent machines that can perform routine tasks that were once completed by humans, such as bricklaying. Alternatively, AI systems can collate and organise information in new structure design software for engineers to use within project planning and design implementation.
Artificial Intelligence will prove invaluable in construction efficiency, as more deadlines will be met, workflow will be enhanced, fewer errors and emissions will be made and safer working practices will be established; this article will provide a brief insight into the development of AI technology.
Progressing through the stages of Artificial Intelligence in construction
As a project progresses, the introduction of Artificial Intelligence and robotics can be separated into four stages, and these run in the same order from the start until the end of a project. They are as follows:
The new way to plan
The first stage is producing blueprints and construction plans, and AI can simulate them using intelligent drones to produce 3D maps. Before this process, these processes would take weeks – now they can be done in one day. This helps to save the firm both time and money in the form of labour.
Modernising administration roles
By working with AI technology, paperless systems will thrive to communicate quickly and efficiently with those involved in a project. Programs are now being used that allow architects, engineers, construction workers and others on a project to work collaboratively by exchanging documentation on a cloud based network, as opposed to sending physical documents. Therefore, project plans can now be manipulated and changed and sent to the necessary person who is working onsite straight away.
Engineers are now using AI database systems to understand how a specific project should be carried out. 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.
AI systems will also feature in the finished project, whether it is a residential or commercial development. In the US alone, $1.5 billion was invested in 2016 by companies looking to capitalise on this growing market.
The use of AI for business is already in full swing, as hotel chain Wynn announced in 2016 that by the end of 2017, all the rooms in their Las Vegas hotel would have an Amazon Echo. 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: Assessing a building by its history
The usage of BIM (business information modelling) allows for records of a businesses’ history to be retained, with details filed on construction, planning decisions and demolition.
A conversational element can be added to this information using virtual assistants- known more commonly as VA’s. 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.
The industry could save valuable time and money on labour costs by choosing to implement VA’s and AI. AIs can also help to replace redundant labour to allow for the industry to make efficiency savings that weren’t possible before this type of technology existed. 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.