Rise of the machines? For construction, not yet

When it comes to construction technology, contractors adopt far slower than the rapid advances made.

Take a pre-marked jobsite. In the past, surveyors and expert tradespeople would have to go on a jobsite and note information, such as overall elevation, earth that needed to be brought in or moved and the layout of the buildsite. Today, drones can capture that information, and robotics can deliver the layout, saving time, energy and money.

However, only 55% of construction companies across the U.S., Europe and China say they use robotics, compared to 84% of automotive companies and 79% of manufacturing companies, according to a survey commissioned by ABB Robotics, an arm of global tech company ABB.

Despite this slow rate of adoption, the construction industry stands on the brink of a robot revolution.

San Francisco-based Swinerton has been putting the tech to good use. Aaron Anderson, director of innovation for Swinerton, said the builder had used Dusty’s layout robot and Canvas’ drywall bot. Anderson said both solved industry-wide problems.

“We’re really motivated toward finding ways to improve productivity to address a lot of the labor shortage issues, improve quality, all of that. And robotics is emerging as a way to achieve that,” Anderson said.