The 21st century is seriously taking the construction industry by storm with what was previously considered futuristic technologies, such as 3D printing, unmanned aerial vehicles (drones) and augmented reality systems. In use today, these technologies have the ability to increase efficiency, allowing fewer projects to run behind schedule or over budget. Just some of the advances in construction technology include:
3D printing is truly a game changer. As we reported in March, 2015, rudimentary buildings are already being constructed using 3D printing technology across the world. In Dubai, a single-story, 2,690 square foot office was built in just 17 days. In China, the world’s tallest 3D printed building – a five-story apartment complex, was erected. In the United States, Oak Ridge National Laboratory in partnership with Clayton Homes, unveiled the first 3D printed home and car that are noted for sharing the same energy.
Drones, also known as unmanned aerial vehicles, are massively favored throughout the construction industry. In use today, drones replace traditional land-surveying methods, reducing the time and labor involved in producing accurate information. All information obtained can be automatically and immediately sent to a computer that would replicate the site in 3D. They can also reduce workplace injuries by identifying safety hazards. Operator licenses must be obtained through the FAA.
Augmented reality (AR) lets contractors like AROK collaborate with clients, presenting them with a mockup of a project, which allows them to look at the details of the construction as if it were actually built. Using augmented reality allows contractors to spot issues and make necessary changes before work commences. The technology is stated to increase efficiency so that fewer projects run over budget and behind schedule. This alone allows augmented reality to pay for itself.
Smart Helmet, by USA-based Daqri, is no ordinary hardhat. It uses augmented reality technology and has a transparent visor and special lens that serves as a head-ups display. In addition, the helmet uses an array of cameras and sensors that helps construction workers navigate and gather information about their environment, therefore reducing their risk of injury. Smart Helmet is reported to improve productivity, safety, and efficiency by allowing instructions to be seen on the display.