Emerging Scanning Results: Construction Robotics

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Specialized robots have the potential to raise productivity by doing repetitive tasks efficiently and improve working conditions through applications which create safety hazards for humans. While the U.S. has a strong research and technology position in this field, applied robotic technology is also well developed in Japan and Russia.

Strictly speaking, there are few industrial robots to be found in the construction sector, but that does not mean there are no other types. Ever since machines came under computer control we have had automation. Automated machines are, in fact, robots. They not only carry out a complex sequence of operations, but can also control their performance. They are self-regulating, correcting themselves as they go. Two common construction robots are: 

1) Wall Climbing Painting Robot and 2) Concrete Power Floating machine.

Concrete Floor Surface Finishing Robots
Copyright Takenaka CorporationConcrete Floor Surface Finishing Robots (Surf Robo): Equipped with two sets of rotary floats and a running function, Surf Robo automatically finishes concrete floor surfaces.
Steel Frame Welding Robot
Copyright Takenaka CorporationSteel Frame Welding Robot: This is a robot equipped with a teaching function for the automatic welding of such parts as “columns and beams” or “columns and columns” in steel work.

Barriers to Robots in Construction:

  • Construction is a diverse industry and one that has to cope with an almost unique set of circumstances on each project and site.
  • The unstructured, dynamic nature of the construction site, the hazards and difficulties presented by temporary works, weather and, sometimes, the shear scale of activity mitigate against greater automation.
  • Investment

In the case of buildings, the development of a systematized approach to construction using largely dry, prefabricated components delivered just-in-time has advanced the degree of automation now possible. Although it is still early days, development of this kind is indicative of a longer-term trend.

Application to PATH Roadmaps

Robotic technology has application to the Information Technology Roadmap, the Whole House Roadmap, and the Advanced Panel Roadmap. As information technology moves forward so does robotic technology. The increasing sophistication of computer chips makes increased control possible. For the whole house roadmap the strategy of designing for production has a direct relationship to the potential for robotics in production, and if panel construction increases, robots could be used more in the actual panel construction as this sort of standard repetitive process is the ideal application.

Current Status of Technology

Robotics is a highly developed technology, but its use in construction has been very limited due to the limitations listed in the barriers section. With the implementation of the roadmaps, technology adoption could increase significantly.

Contact Information

The Robotics Institute

Takenaka Corporation
1-13, 4-chome, Hommachi
Chuo-ku, Osaka 541-0053, Japan
Phone: (06) 6252-1201
Fax: (06) 6271-0398

2131 K Street, NW
Suite 700
Washington, DC 20037
Phone: (202) 785-6420
Fax: (202) 833-2604

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