Artificial intelligence (AI) has been a frequently discussed topic among individuals and businesses over the last few years. IBM defines artificial intelligence as “a field, which combines computer science and robust datasets, to enable problem-solving.” Popular AI, like ChatGPT, has been the discussion of many for its ability to scour the web and develop responses and answers to the questions and instructions it is given. On the business side, AI has been prevalent in many industries from chat bots used at call centers to the robots powered by AI used in manufacturing.
Construction is no different. According to a Financial Times article, Goldman Sachs is estimating an increase in global GDP of approximately 7% over the next decade. This change has the potential to affect 300 million full-time workers. Given that construction makes up approximately 6% of US GDP, the implementation of AI could play a huge role in the national economy.
AI is on the rise with popular uses such as Spot the robot dog, which was released in 2020 to assist with project monitoring and improving site health and safety. During the past few years, AI has expanded its role in the industry into project management analysis, health and safety monitoring, and more. In this article, we’ll dive further into the various ways AI has been used to create a safer and more efficient building process.
The pre-construction phase has seen several products and platforms to improve the process. Products such as AirWorks can assist engineers and developers review aerial records and assist with CAD (computer assisted design) models through its powerful AI. In doing so, reducing labor on the front end, and reducing the risk of human error in the process. Processes such as estimating, design, and modeling has also seen growth in solutions. AI such as Trimble One have allowed builders to integrate their data into one platform and build more precise estimates, designs, and models.
The Construction phase has also experienced major changes. Automated machines sold by companies such as Build Stream and Built Robotics have allowed builders to use autonomous vehicles to complete straight forward repetitive tasks (e.g. brick laying, concrete, welding, etc.). Additionally, companies such as Versatile are using drones and robots to track site data in real time. This data has allowed management to track project progress, better allocate their workforce, and better identify potential risks associated with their jobs.
Outside of the construction process, AI can create significant insights in site safety. AI powered cameras, sensors, and robots can identify potential safety hazards and alert workers and management to the potential danger.
The processes and products above are just a small sample of the AI available to the construction industry. However, the question remains as to whether this technology will be implemented across the industry. According to the 2022 Peak Decision Intelligence Maturity Index, 92% of construction companies responded they were intending to use AI in 2022. However, only 65% of construction companies who have attempted an AI project in the past 5 years have been successful, which is the lowest mark of all industries surveyed. It’s apparent that the useful and reliable data produced by AI has the potential to change the industry. The question remains of whether the industry will be successful in its adoption.