The use of robotics in construction has moved from an expensive novelty to an indispensable tool, writes Ian Harvey. Used regularly in everything from bricklaying to placing concrete, plans are underway to use robotics for major construction projects, like a massive hydroelectric dam in Tibet and upgrades to a Canadian nuclear reactor, and those uses are expected to increase.



The thing about change is sometimes it creeps up on us.Take robotics in construction. They’re already deployed and working.Did we notice?

Sure, these are early designs and entry level for the most part, but they are here and growing in both capability and application, much like the personal computer or mobile phone when it first arrived. At first, an expensive novelty. Now an indispensable tool for both business and recreation that fits in our pockets.

While things are picking up in Canada, we’re far behind the rest of the world.Certainly, drones, robotic dogs, bricklaying machines, paving stone machines have already been built and deployed.

Bulldozers can level a site guided by their software perimeter guidelines. Small robotic devices are chipping away at concrete on demolition jobs. And there’s usually a human role in there somewhere.Volvo’s heavy equipment may be operated from many miles away, but there’s a human in the chair toggling the controls. It’s the same with mine face robots.

In Europe, modular factories are commonplace but perhaps no one is as advanced as the Chinese where the fast growing nation is banking heavily on more factories staffed by robots as it ramps up production of just about everything, including construction.

Bright Dream has built 18 construction robots that have been used in 120 projects around the world carrying out painting, sanding concrete pours, pouring concrete, floating concrete and more. Meanwhile, satellite-guided robots are building roads, right down to the final finish.