TOKYO — Japanese contractor Obayashi has started to build a dam almost entirely with robots, addressing the industry’s labor shortage and aging workforce.

The site of the trial project is a concrete dam in Mie Prefecture, on the southeast coast of Japan’s main island. The 84-meter-high structure is slated for completion in March 2023.Obayashi has developed automated equipment to stack concrete layers to form a dam. To further streamline the process, a plant has been built near the site to mix sand and gravel with cement to make concrete.

Building a dam requires knowledge and skill developed through years of experience. Obayashi’s automated system is expected to be a game-changer in dam construction, as well as in other applications.”By transferring expert techniques to machines, we’re able to analyze what was once implicit knowledge,” said Akira Naito, head of Obayashi’s dam technology unit.

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