Hello, everyone. Time for our weekly roundup of articles at the intersection of building information modeling (BIM); artificial intelligence (AI); and the architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) space.  Here goes:

Last week we talked about the usually technophobic construction industry's subtle shift toward experimenting with (and sometimes embracing) the massive array of new tech available to the industry. While architects and designers have used digital tools for years, project managers, and especially contractors, have remained leery of change. But that trepidation is rapidly becoming a thing of the past. Construction Dive reported this week that many big construction firms are exploring laser scanning, drones, augmented reality, and even reality capture to improve efficiency, save money, and deliver a better product to the client. This exploration, however, does not mean there will be an overnight, universal embracing of new digital tools. According to Jordan Moffet of McCarthy Building, "The technology's improving so rapidly that it's a concern of ours to make any sort of hefty investment because right around the corner there could be a company that does the same exact thing for a 10th or even a 100th of the cost." While that's certainly the case, no one wants to be left in the proverbial dust.

 

Integrating new ways of working. (Source: Construction Dive)

In fact, Line//Shape//Space pointed this out in their piece outlining howdigitalization can increase margins in civil construction: "Given the velocity of technology development today, infrastructure planners, designers, and contractors need to overcome their aversion to risk and new technology to avoid being blindsided by those who are willing to take advantage of digitalization." In other words, embrace the change or prepare for doom. They point out that, particularly in the civil sector where margins are slim to begin with, falling a step behind could spell imminent demise. 

Construction that practically falls off the page. (Source: Line//Shape//Space)

Speaking of being left behind, MIT Technology Review stressed the importance of all industries embracing artificial intelligence, or at the very least, not ignoring it. The report recognizes the existing limitations of the current state of AI, but also stresses how far it's come and that it's not going anywhere now. "...no one in any industry can afford to ignore this technology. There is clearly much that can be achieved by putting our best, if imperfect, artificial intelligence technology to use in as many places as possible." Specifically, they mention advances in robots working with people, programs that can create content or financial documents, and autonomous vehicles, all of which have clear applications in AEC industries.

Maybe we can coexist after all... (Source: The Guardian)

Robots working with people made their own headlines this week. Engineering.com shared an infographic from Universal Robots (UR) detailing the evolution of collaborative robots, or "cobots" (as we love to say!). Cobots, it turns out, are not as new as you may believe. The first collaborative robot rolled out nearly a decade ago in 2008. Since then, "UR has seen over 8,400 units of their UR3, UR5 and UR10 cobots installed in 55 countries, automating applications for small-to-medium sized manufacturers across the globe." These robots should alleviate at least some of the fears of robotics and AI naysayers, as the robots are built to work with and alongside human counterparts as opposed to replacing them. 

Keep your friends close and your robots closer. (Source: Engineering.com)

Different types of "cobots" appeared on Engadget as Six Machines That Build a Better World. From laying brick roads to building homes for the poor, these machines pave the way to creating a safer, more equitably built future.

This may be the simplified, more elegant future of construction. (Source:Engadget)

And if you're looking for alternate uses for that drone you have just laying around, check this out. Have a great week!