The Robots Are Coming... To Construction
The robots are coming, there’s no two ways about it. With the announcement that John Lewis has brought Robotical, whose customisable and programmable walking robot, Marty, is designed to help kids learn to code, programme and 3D print, it’s clear we’re preparing the next generation for a robotic future. But what does this mean for the Real Estate industry?
Robots and Virtual Walkthroughs in Real Estate
Virtual Reality, as we know well at VMI Studio, is gaining momentum in the Real Estate marketing sector, both in Commercial and Residential. The creation of virtual walkthroughs for real estate is what we are passionate about, so knowing that robots will soon be helping us out, is fascinating news.
Let’s take, for example, SPIN – or full name Sanborn Platform for Indoor Mapping. SPIN is a semi-autonomous robot who uses photogrammetry, computer vision and laser scanning in order to produce 3D maps of spaces. The maps he produces will also be used for showing buyers geographical information, and he’ll also be able to conduct searches on properties.
Robots in Construction
Housebuilders will also find the rise of the robots incredibly useful on the construction site. There are an array of robotic technologies set to streamline the building site, not to mention the architect’s office.
Industry-leading Swiss architects, Gramazio and Kohler, are just two major champions of the potential applications that robots will have on Construction. They’re adamant that drone technology, in particular, will be instrumental to the industry, with the capacity to command all aspects of the construction process in the future.
“We believe that in the next 20 years a large part of the Construction industry – large parts of it are still very primitive – will move to digital fabrication,” they state. “[Construction] still plans like it’s 200 years ago, redrawing everything five times, making a lot of mistakes on site, delivering a very poor quality for a high price, and dramatically limiting creative or expressive potential”.
Few would argue that the Construction industry is generally rather reluctant to take up new technology, but soon it’s going to become hard to resist.
For example, Construction Robotics has created SAM100, a bricklaying robot who can currently manage about one brick every fourteen seconds. It’s not bad, but in order to make a real improvement to human labour, housebuilders are going to want to see something pretty special. When the penny drops, however, that SAM100 doesn’t need to clock off, and can keep on laying those bricks 24/7, it becomes a whole different matter.
One of the main robotic technologies already making waves in the Construction industry is 3D printing. There are ever-increasing examples of how this type of technology is revolutionising the house building process, and we’re pretty confident it won’t be long before 3D printing is commonplace on the building site.
As the evidence of how 3D printing can really speed up the construction process mounts, we wonder whether this could be the gateway for housebuilders to embracing other robotic assistance on the building site.
Professor Simon Austin, Professor of Structural Engineering at Loughborough University, agrees:
“I think that companies who become early adopters of 3D printing will learn a huge amount about automation and robotics, and how they can be exploited on a site.”
The Next Robots In Construction
To Look At Are Drones
When it comes to inspection, there is no better technology than aerial drones. With specialised camera technology that can detect gas leaks, building damage and other potential threats, as well as some serious, accurate multilevel data, they’re pretty much indispensable. Where construction workers often need to negotiate hazardous and hard-to-reach places in order to carry out an inspection, drones can fly in, and using their in-built technology, gather far deeper data than the worker ever could.
Drones are being used in Japan, by construction machinery company, Komatsu, as they eyes for automated bulldozers. The drones feed information via a computer directly to automated machinery to allow them to plot an accurate course in their work.
This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the potential uses for robots in both Construction and Real Estate marketing. We are really interested in how automation and, potentially, artificial intelligence, might impact the way we create our CGI visualisations of properties in future. So watch this space… we’ll be keeping our ears to the ground!