Jun 5, 2020

Automating the construction industry with robotics

Dan Weatherley
3 min
Robot
Construction robots have begun to take the industry by storm. We explore how the technology is set to shake up the industry like never before...

Historically, the construction industry is one of the least automated and least technologically advanced industries in the world. Construction technology companies across the globe are working hard to change this.

There are so many examples of firms introducing effective technology to the industry right now. For example, multiple companies have been working behind the scenes to create driverless technology for road paving and rollers, in addition to innovative communication tools such as LaborChart.

We’ve seen various robotics solutions from a range of construction technology companies such as Built Robotics’ Material Unit Lift Enhancer (MULE) which has the ability to handle and place various materials on construction sites automatically. Efforts in other areas on-site include the introduction of SAM, short for Semi-Automated Mason which has been designed as a bricklaying robot.

As construction is a highly un-automated industry, a robot revolution is almost certain.

Are they compatible with the industry?

There’s actually a very good reason why the construction industry utilizes so few robots. On-site construction tasks can be very difficult to automate due to the complexity and accuracy required.

Robots work incredibly well in an environment where repetitive tasks are carried out. Unfortuntunealty construction sites are the complete opposite of this which can make the adoption of robotic technology a very complex procedure. Thankfully, some companies have developed, and continue to develop innovative robotic solutions to take on these historically challenging tasks.

Types of Construction Robots

In recent years, a number of different robots have taken the construction industry by storm. The world’s first 3D-printed bridge was in fact assisted by a robot with 3D-printing functionalities. A mobile robotic arm controls a 3D-printer and makes movements based o a set of preprogrammed instructions.

A bricklaying robot was created by Australian-based construction technology firm FBR. Robots have also been used to lay an entire street at a time which can improve the speed, quality and general efficiency of various construction projects.

Demolition robots have also come on the scene recently, these are about to break into mainstream applications across many construction sites. Although they aren’t as quick as human demolition crews, they make demolition operations much safer when demolishing concrete components, whilst reducing the cost considerably.

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Robotics are not just limited to the above processors though, there are so many other types of construction robots, and new innovative solutions are being developed by construction technology companies all around the world. Some of the more recent developments include the use of remote controlled or autonomous vehicles. These are more suited to other operations rather than on-site work, though.

As the construction industry remains relatively un-automated, these new technologies surrounding robotics are set to have a major impact on the construction industry. More and more companies are automating operations meaning the demand for robotics will continue to rise, as they can reduce costs whilst promoting productivity.

For more news and insights in relation to the construction industry, read our latest issue of Construction Global.

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Jun 14, 2021

XYZ Reality receives £20m to develop Assisted Reality

AugmentedReality
construction
DigitalTransformation
Technology
Dominic Ellis
3 min
XYZ Reality to use funding led by Octopus Ventures to springboard into USA and automatically report issues through Assisted Reality

XYZ Reality has announced a £20m investment round led by Octopus Ventures.

Founded in 2017, XYZ Reality aims to "revolutionise" the construction sector with its Engineering-Grade Augmented Reality (AR) solution, Holosite.

Designed to enable an on time and on budget delivery of construction projects, by eliminating building errors, HoloSite has been available to select customers through an early access programme and has already been used on projects totalling a value of over £1.5bn in the last year. 

With approximately 98% of construction megaprojects facing cost overruns or delays and 7-11% of project costs being spent on correcting errors, XYZ Reality’s purpose-built integrated AR solution directly addresses these issues.

With its safety certified AR hardhat, cloud platform and in-built proprietary software, Holosite accurately positions high fidelity 3D design models on construction sites, enabling teams to build it right, first time. The technology system has been used on complex construction projects including data centres, pharmaceutical facilities and airports.     

This funding will be used to accelerate the company’s ambition of transforming projects by preparing for HoloSite’s commercial launch in the USA and continuing investment in strengthening research and development. The company is also growing its London team to include key hires across technology, manufacturing, sales and marketing.

David Mitchell, Founder and CEO of XYZ Reality, said developing its engineering-Grade AR solution helping construction teams identify errors in real-time is just the start.

"The next phase is Assisted Reality, where our spatial computing technology will have the intelligence to automatically detect and report issues in the field. And ultimately, the goal is builders building from holograms. Our vision of developing world changing products aligns with Octopus Ventures’ mission of investing in companies that are powering the next industrial revolution. We look forward to building history.”

The latest round of funding is led by Octopus Ventures, one of the largest and most active venture investors in Europe, known for its commitment of investing in companies and founders that are changing the world. Octopus Ventures has a strong track record, spanning investment in health, fintech, consumer, B2B software, and deep tech. This includes WaveOptics, one of Octopus Ventures’ early investments in Augmented Reality, which was recently acquired by Snap Inc. 

Rebecca Hunt, early-stage investor at Octopus Ventures, said: "We’ve always invested in entrepreneurs leading industry change and XYZ is doing just that. It's solving a massive problem that costs the construction industry billions every year, using its Engineering-Grade Augmented Reality solution to spearhead a shift in the sector’s approach. The founding team of David, Umar and Murray have deep domain and technical expertise, which we believe makes XYZ uniquely placed to drive this transformation.”

XYZ Reality also announces a new partnership with Mace, for the construction of a hyper-scale data centre in Europe. With speed to market being particularly essential for mission critical builds, HoloSite’s AR technology will have a significant role in supporting an accurate and time effective build for Mace, which last week appointed Jon McElroy its new Managing Director for International Technology.  

Mace Technical Director, Stephen Henley, said: “Mace has built a reputation of redefining the boundaries of ambition, always bringing efficiency, innovation and responsibility to our projects. With the implementation of XYZ’s groundbreaking AR system, we continue to be committed to delivering projects faster, safer and better than ever before.” 

Five years ago, Heather Bellini of Goldman Sachs Research expected virtual and augmented reality to become an $80 billion market by 2025.

But according to new research by global tech market advisory firm ABI Research, nearly 28 million augmented and mixed reality smart glasses will ship in 2026, while the total global AR/MR market will surpass $175 billion in the same year.

"Major tech players across hardware, software, and services look familiar in the consumer space, contributing to strong and consistent overall growth," says Eric Abbruzzese, Research Director for ABI Research. "Those big tech names, with active investment and product ranging from already available, to announced, to all-but-announced, are creating a consumer AR market that will be dynamic and welcoming rather than struggling and immature."

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