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Purdue University presented a new robot at the 2021 Technology Showcase: The State of Innovation. The new design integrates BIM (building information modeling) and construction robotics in a new way to reduce the time it takes to complete basic tasks and to make up for labor shortages.

“Our work helps to address workforce shortages in the construction industry by automating key construction operations,” said Jiansong Zhang, assistant professor of construction management technology in the Purdue Polytechnic Institute. “On a construction site, there are many unknown factors that a construction robot must be able to account for effectively. This requires much more advanced sensing and reasoning technologies than those commonly used in a manufacturing environment.”

The new robotic system combines tasks, effectively using one “hand” when usually two are required. For example, it can both place and fasten material with one hand, rather than putting with one and securing with another; this presents a tremendous time-saving advantage.

Integrating the robot into the BIM system enables it to identify obstacles and safety hazards while performing work.

“By basing the sensing for our robotic arm around computer vision technology, rather than more limited-scope and expensive sensing systems, we have the capability to complete many sensing tasks with a single affordable sensor,” Zhang said. “This allows us to implement a more robust and versatile system at a lower cost.”

The Purdue team seeks to overcome the need for pristine environments for robot operation; this stumbling block inhibits other advanced robotics that require controlled spaces. Zhang foresees more robotics on the job site after crossing this hurdle.

This new robot from Purdue University promises advances in construction that will promote safety and efficiency on the job site.

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