Robots replacing Habitat for Humanity? Private residences, corporate buildings, and road construction are just three categories of the construction industry that is only growing. Robots in construction are not nearly as prevalent as they are in other industries, but the potential is encouraging. Behrokh Khoshnevis, with funding from USG, developed Contour Crafting, a one-armed robot that deposits concrete mixture layers on top of each other, finally forming a structure. A computer gives instructions to the robot. Eventually, the system could be used to build single-residence houses, or even high-rise buildings. A revolution like this could change construction forever.
As robots in construction gain more popularity, they are completing tasks such as welding steel I-beams for building and handling insulation at the manufacturing plant. They can perform arc welding of metal components to create construction machinery, they can apply adhesives and sealants to building materials like window frames, and can even fasten and assemble those windows and doors. Concrete finishing machines, an important substance in the construction industry, can be welded and assembled by robots.
Construction workers can get easily fatigued or hurt laying bricks and concrete blocks, due to the repetitive nature of the job. Robots can pick a block or brick from a pallet and apply the mortar. Robots can grab a variety of shapes and sizes of bricks and blocks.
KUKA Robotics offers robots for a range of tasks in construction. From roof tile production to welding components to residential flue manufacturing, KUKA offers cost-effective solutions. KUKA’s robots are resistant to heat, dust, and corrosion, and can be quickly adapted to any production conditions. Some KUKA models are the KR 500, KR 60, and KR 125/3.
Motion Controls Robotics, a FANUC integrator, has developed integrated systems for handling insulation for packaging applications. The material handling of rolled fiberglass insulation is made in a continuous stream, cut into smaller pieces, and stacked and bundled into configurations required by customers. The robots then batch the rolled insulation together and wrap them before shipping. MCR also has robotic work cells dedicated to packaging and palletizing foam pipe insulation used to cover hot pipes.
A few robots that may take the spotlight in future construction endeavors are the Power Pedal and the Liteye LE-700. Power Pedal is a power-augmenting robot. It can increase human leg power to complete tasks like lifting precast tilt-up wall and other heavy lifting that requires intelligence. The Liteye LE-700 increases situational awareness that augments user’s sight, hearing, and cognition. It could potentially combine 3D CAD drawings to allow on-site dynamic referencing.