Construction robots are not sophisticated enough to displace human workers anytime soon because of humans’ invaluable ability to improvise during complex and uncertain situations, says Reza Akhavian, a San Diego State University researcher studying how robotics can make construction sites more efficient and safe. Akhavian says construction robots present opportunities to upskill workers and relieve grunt work.



This spring, Reza Akhavian, assistant professor of civil and construction engineering at San Diego State University, received a $691,000 National Science Foundation CAREER award grant.

Akhavian’s research includes finding ways to enhance safety and efficiency on construction jobsites through robotics. Here, the professor talks with Construction Dive about the focus of his research and misconceptions about construction” color=”green”] READ MORE[/button].

CONSTRUCTION DIVE: What types of robots best benefit construction?

REZA AKHAVIAN: Different robotics applications can benefit construction. On the one hand, there are repetitive and thus unsafe construction tasks that can be robotized to protect workers’ safety. On the other hand, there are tasks that are simply tedious and time-consuming and do not necessarily require human-level intelligence that can be performed by robots.

Regardless of the type, it is important to look at construction robotics as a human-centered process that is here to upskill workers and enable improved safety, productivity and diversity on the jobsites.We hope to learn the ways we can achieve safe and co-adaptive worker-robot interaction as well as trustworthy robotics in construction.

Do you see a future where robots replace human construction workers?

AKHAVIAN: Currently and for the foreseeable future, the field of robotics in general, and construction robotics in particular, are not even close to a state in which robots can replace human workers. Robots replacing humans are staples of science fiction movies and cartoons. While I cannot predict the future, I can steer my research in a direction that helps this perception remain in science fiction rather than becoming the practice of the future.