Technology

Robot fleet to monitor site progress and safety

A fleet of autonomous site monitoring robots is being developed by US construction and FM firm Gilbane Building Company and Nextera Robotics.

The robots are autonomous and do not require human supervision. Each robot can drive for up to six hours, and then parks itself at the nearest base station for recharging.

To achieve precise localisation and navigation through the construction site environment, the robots use an approach similar to self-driving vehicles. Nextera’s autonomous navigation software uses deep learning to process data from advanced depth sensors, cameras, Lidars and inertial sensors integrated within the robot’s body to make real-time decisions. The neural networks for localisation, navigation and mapping are trained on data collected over thousands of miles driving within active construction sites.

The robot fleet includes wheeled and tracked versions, capable of scaling stairs or using human-operated hoists.

The data collected by the robots is fed through to Gilbane’s and Nextera’s Didge platform, which is designed to be customisable and multi-functional to include capabilities such as 360-degree video capture and daily laser scanning to automate a field-to-BIM connection.

The platform will also be able to monitor environmental conditions and enhance security surveillance on project sites. 

Michael McKelvy, president and CEO of Gilbane Building Company, said: “Our robotics platform is designed to offer a cost-efficient, automated means to make construction sites safer and more efficient. We’re always looking at ways to deliver greater value to our clients and our partnership with Nextera Robotics aims to do just that.”

Lana Graf, CEO and founder of Nextera Robotics, added: “We truly believe that smart and gradual involvement of robotics and AI on all levels of construction, in every process, can improve productivity, increase safety and promote sustainable operations and a better environmental footprint for the entire industry.”

Gilbane is primarily US-based but also has offices in Guam, Ireland, Japan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

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