AMRs or Autonomous Mobile Robots can navigate their environment without needing human supervision. Industries such as automotive and warehousing have already proved how AMRs can improve productivity and prevent worker fatigue by handling and automating repetitive tasks. However, while these sectors are continuously finding new ways to leverage AMRs in enhancing their operational efficiencies, the construction industry is still behind in catching up with the trend of utilizing robots to perform menial tasks.
However, leaders in the construction space have already begun experimenting with AMRs and are seeing significant benefits in terms of efficiency and profitability. Let’s explore how autonomous mobile robots are slowly but steadily becoming a part of construction projects.
1. Material Supply
Construction sites require a consistent supply of materials to operate with better efficiency. This process, however, is carried out through human labor. With autonomous mobile robots, it is possible to eliminate such repetitive and tedious processes. Instead of humans taking care of the logistics to supply materials on-site, AMRs can do the heavy lifting without any fatigue. Since these robots come with object detection sensors that allow them to judge distance and create a virtual map around them from the data they collect, accidents and resulting injuries can be reduced to a significant extent.
This revolutionary way of handling raw materials may seem futuristic. However, several companies are already in the process of materializing this idea. Volvo, for example, is working on HX2, an autonomous load carrier capable of moving heavy loads without needing a human driver.
2. Accurate Floor Planning
Floorplanning is the process of recreating the layout of a building on the floor. Floorplanning is essential to construction as it creates a blueprint for the workers to start the project. Usually, the process involves workers measuring each side of the building and plotting the data as a layout. However, with AMRs, floorplanning can now be automated.
One such example is the FeildPrinter AMR from Dusty Robotics. Dusty’s FieldPrinter can autonomously print a full-scale model onto the construction surface. The robot uses sensors to identify the floor’s layout and then mark the layout with high accuracy. With such a system, we can easily minimize errors and convert drawings to accurate real-life layouts.
3. Handling Demolitions
The construction industry isn’t just concerned with constructing buildings but often has to demolish previous structures after their design life or in order to make new changes to the site. Unfortunately, demolition projects are also among the most dangerous parts of the construction industry.
Demolition AMRs are programmed to destroy a building or a structure and have operators at a remote location. The robots come with different attachments that help them drill, crush or break structures before them.
Currently, demolition robots occupy 90% of the total market for construction robots.
4. Site Inspections
Inspection of projects helps the builders to understand if there are any defects in the building. Inspection applies for new buildings as well as old buildings that require a safety audit. AMRs are a viable choice for inspection as they can quickly enter a building irrespective of the safety aspect and can traverse hard-to-reach places.
Husky, the unmanned ground vehicle from Clear Path Robotics, is one such example. The robot comes with a host of sensors like stereo cameras, LiDAR, GPS, IMUs, and manipulators. On top of that, it can be fitted with additional sensors or parts to diversify its uses. In the field of construction, Husky can be used for site inspections, localization, mapping, and path planning.
5. Painting Drones
Combining AMR drone technology with painting, autonomous drone painters can apply paint or coating to surfaces.
The collaboration between AkzoNobel, a paint manufacturer, and Apellix, a drone manufacturer, aims to bring the vision of drone painter to fruition. The project eyes to create two types of autonomous painters. A tethered version that takes paint or coating from the base station and an untethered version that can carry the paint as payload.
Disney has already built a PaintCopter that can safely paint surfaces using 3D mapping. Although this technology is in its early stages, we can see its vast potential in terms of both safety and productivity.
Build Innovative Robots for Construction Industry with Hokuyo Sensors
At Hokuyo, we produce sensor technologies that enable robots to better understand and navigate their surroundings. From collision-avoidance sensors, safety laser, and obstacle detection scanners to laser rangefinders (LiDAR), our sensing solutions help enhance your AMRs capabilities.