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Developing the construction sector with artificial intelligence

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Artificial intelligence has been a boost to many sectors, and it has proven useful in the construction industry too. Also referred to as AI, the leaps and bounds we’re making in technology have created new processes both on and off the construction site. We are able to use AI to understand and resolve issues in a project, help maintain office records, or even perform physical tasks such as bricklaying. It can also be used during the project planning stages, as well as in the design process.

To look in further detail at the advancements of artificial intelligence in the construction industry, we are joined by building design software specialists Oasys.

The classes of AI
There are four main categories of artificial intelligence within the construction sector.

Planning the project
Construction plans are now created by a mix of human and AI input. Autonomous equipment is considered as 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.

Prior to the use of AI, it could weeks to complete these processes. Now, they can be finished in a day.

In the office
During the project, AI is used to maintain and track tasks. 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.

Construction methodology
A project’s construction and processes can be supported by AI databases. 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 has also become an integral part of safety measures, with autonomous machinery able to operate at risky heights while the driver is outside of the vehicle. Using sensors and GPS, the vehicle can calculate the safest route.

After the project
After a structure’s completion, regardless of its purpose, AI is often used within the structure itself. In the US alone, $1.5 billion was invested in 2016 by companies looking to capitalise on this growing market.

In 2017, for example, the Las Vegas branch for Wynn hotels added an Amazon Echo to every room. 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.

Knowing your BIMs from your VAs

With the use of building information modelling (BIM), decisions regarding a building’s construction and use can all be recorded for future use, all the way up until it is demolished. Virtual assistants, also known as VAs, can then be used to add a conversational element alongside this information. 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.

VAs and AI have the potential to save the industry money and time, not to mention labour expenditures. AIs can 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.

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