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The future of robotics in architecture

Like many other industries, construction and architecture greatly benefit from the latest technological developments.

While modern BIM software solutions like AutoCAD and AutoCAD Architecture help streamline and improve the design process, there is also another field in which modern technologies revolutionize the field of construction.

We are talking about robotics — flexible automated systems that help solve plenty of issues and optimize the workflow across the board.

In this article, we will take a close look at how robots, AI, and automation is used in the architecture industry. We will also talk about what the future will bring to the table and why robotics is expected to become an integral part of any construction project.

The benefits of robotics in architecture
Before we explore how robotics are beneficial for construction and architecture projects, we need to define exactly what the term means. Unfortunately, the definition of robotics is a bit broad — the term applies to any machine that performs tasks that would otherwise be handled by humans.

The ability to create complex machinery that executes defined functions makes robotics incredibly flexible and useful. Nowadays, robots contribute to virtually all stages of a construction project.

What makes robotics so helpful? First of all, machines are excellent in performing mundane tasks 24/7, without the need to rest. Robots are also capable of performing tasks much faster than humans and are less likely to make mistakes.

From the management side, using machines for certain dangerous tasks is preferable to putting someone’s life in jeopardy. On top of that, managers can optimize their workforce and budget by hiring fewer people. Overall, robotics is a cost-effective solution that can help architects plan and execute projects quickly and efficiently.

How are robotics in architecture used currently?
While the field of robotics is relatively new, the industry is developing at an unprecedented speed. Most modern construction projects are already using machines in one way or another. Below, you can find just a few examples of how robots and other complex machines make life easier for architects and project managers alike.

On-site construction work
Robots are often used to perform construction tasks on the construction site itself. For example, drones can now lay brickwork or transport materials at high altitudes. Usually, doing that would require complex scaffolding and include a certain level of risk. Instead of standard cranes, construction managers now use robotic arms, which makes the entire process easier to execute.

Creating accurate models
With the help of robotics and AI, managers can now produce perfect models of their building before the actual construction process begins. New technologies like 3D printing can generate extremely detailed models that are 100% accurate. On top of that, architects can try out different building materials and test how the structure will perform best.

Achieving sustainability
Green, sustainable construction has been the standard for some years now. The trend is only expected to continue, so architects need to take that into account. Machines integrated into the building itself can constantly monitor factors like temperature, air quality, and light. Those devices can then automatically adjust the HVAC system to ensure the building is energy-efficient.

What does the future hold for robotics in architecture?
As we already mentioned, the field of robotics has been in rapid development these past years. When it comes to its implications for architecture and construction, there are some exciting possibilities that might be just around the corner. Let’s take a look at how robotics might revolutionize construction even further in the years to come.

Construction in uninhabitable environments
There has been much talk about creating settlements on nearby planets — Mars, for example. For such projects, robotics would be key, as machines will be able to work without worrying about oxygen, supplies, and harsh conditions. The same goes for construction in deserts, oceans, and other places that will be hard for humans to work in. With the help of robots, we might be able to achieve feats never before thought possible.

Developing smart buildings
Another interesting development will likely come from the field of biopolymers — materials that respond to the surrounding environment, much like a living organism would. Buildings created with biopolymers will have their own internal network based on machine learning. As a result, the materials will be able to change according to certain conditions. For example, a smart building will be able to adjust its temperature, lighting, and even surfaces based on what the weather outside is.

Advancements in design
Up until now, the creative process behind building design and architecture has been solely the job of humans. Machines are perfect when it comes to calculation and automation — however, they are yet to become a creative force that comes up with design concepts. All of that might change soon, thanks to the advancements in machine learning and AI. As technology develops further, machines might be able to create innovative design solutions on their own. On top of that, machine learning can solve problems in ways we humans have never thought of before.

Even though the field of robotics is still in its early stages, it has already made significant changes to the way construction projects are planned, executed, and maintained. Things that seemed like science fiction only a decade ago now are entirely in the realm of possibility. Robotics will undoubtedly play a major role in how the construction and architecture industry develops in the years to come.

About the author
Roger Liucci is a building information modeling (BIM) and 3D printing specialist at Microsol Resources, an Autodesk Platinum Partner in their New York office. He is particularly interested in the interaction between design and technology innovation as it relates to digital fabrication and cloud computing where one can work anytime, anywhere and optimize designs with virtually infinite and mobile cloud computing power.

Roger studied Environmental Architecture at Arizona State University and has an Associate Degree in Applied Sciences from SUNY Farmingdale. He has given talks on building information modeling and technology innovation at Autodesk University, and the Revit User Group to name a few.



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