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Artificial Intelligence and Its Impact on the Construction Sector

Technology

Reposted with permission from constructionexec.com, April 10, 2019, all rights reserved. Copyright 2019.

The construction industry, like so many others, has undergone a radical change thanks to rapidly evolving technology. In particular, the use of artificial intelligence has helped to streamline procedures across various sectors, offering faster and more accurate processes.

With artificial intelligence, machines are able to show their own form of ‘intelligence’ by using algorithms to filter through huge quantities of data and quickly find a solution to a problem. This is of huge benefit to the construction industry, as routine tasks can now be passed from human to machine to be done far more quickly, freeing up time for human input elsewhere.

THE FOUR AI CATEGORIES

How is AI being used across various parts of the construction industry? There are four main areas of AI use within the construction sector.

1. Planning stage. Within construction planning, artificial intelligence is indispensable. Autonomous equipment is considered 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. Before this advancement, these processes would take weeks – now they can be done in one day. This helps to save firms both time and money in the form of labor.

2. Admin stage. AI can then be used to help plan and manage tasks within a project. 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.

3. Construction stage. With a large database to hand, AI can advise on the best construction methods. 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 on hand, engineers can make crucial decisions based on evidence that they may not have previously had at their disposal. Artificial intelligence is also found physically on a construction site — autonomous site machinery allows for drivers to remain safely outside the vehicle while it operates in risky situations. Using sensors and GPS, the vehicle can calculate the safest route.

4. After completion. Once construction has been completed, AI helps to support the structure long into the future through many different means. In the U.S. alone, $1.5 billion was invested in 2016 by companies looking to capitalize on this growing market. For example, the hotel chain Wynn announced in 2016 that every room in its Las Vegas hotel 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.

VIRTUAL ASSISTANTS AND BUILDING INFORMATION MODELING

There is also a wide capacity for AI to be used for decision-making within a building long into the future. Building information modeling can be used so that a building’s history from its construction, to the management decisions alongside construction, up until demolition, are all recorded.

This data is then accessed by virtual assistants, which can then present the data to an engineer. By combining VAs with near-field communication, VAs can gather additional information on the building itself in real-time from various sensors in the building. For example, if there were structural problems with a building, VAs could inform engineers specifically where the problem is and how it can be fixed.

AI has huge potential to save engineers time and money in so many processes. As the future of AI becomes more of a reality within construction, only time will tell how reliant upon intelligent machines the construction industry will be in order to construct innovative building designs.

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