This article was contributed by Heather Russell, an Employee-Owner and Marketing Strategy Analyst at The Blue Book Building & Construction Network®.
Remember when the robots of the Jetsons were just a futuristic fantasy? The future is nearer than ever. Rolling robots are already delivering packages, groceries, and takeout. A robot chef is poised to go on sale in 2017. But how will this affect the construction industry?
The way construction is done now, compared to ten, fifty, or a hundred years ago likely couldn’t have been imagined at that time. 3D printing, robotic construction systems, and drone aircraft are continuing to evolve the construction process.
Technology (and especially robots) can make work on the construction site more productive, safe, and efficient, but they will never eliminate the importance of human workers.
Robots in demolition are especially more widely used – to cut, crush, and quickly turn structures into rubble. Most are remote controlled.
How far off are independently functioning robots?
What might we see in the next 5, 10, 15 years? Robots laying bricks for buildings? YES – Fastbrick Robotics has a prototype that can lay 1,000 bricks an hour:
Robots paving roads? YES – the Tiger Stone paving machine lays a brick road in one continuous sheet.
Robots building steel bridges? YES! In Amsterdam MX3D is 3D printing a bridge with robotic arms.
Self-driving trucks? Almost (Maybe my self-driving flying Jetsons car will be here soon!)
But could robots put people out of work? We doubt it – look at how technology has evolved in most all industries. Humans will always be needed – to build, repair, program, and operate robots. Don’t worry—nothing will replace people in the workforce—robots will make work environments safer and more efficient.