- A team of researchers has received grants and support from the National Science Foundation and the Discovery Partners Institute to establish a National Institute for Artificial Intelligence in Construction.
- More than 40 industry partners from architecture, engineering and construction as well as technology providers and venture capital investment firms will join researchers from the University of Illinois and Carnegie Mellon University in this multidisciplinary effort to design the new institute through a series of planning workshops.
- The goal is to identify key areas for the highest impact of AI in design, construction and operation of the built environment. The team will also actively engage in the development of AI methods and tools, as well as entrepreneurship education, to bring these solutions to the market.
The initiative will lead to a first-of-its-kind institute for the application of AI in design, construction and operation of buildings and infrastructure systems, said project lead Mani Golparvar-Fard, associate professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, in a press release from the school. A school spokesperson told Construction Dive that while the group hasn’t released names of specific industry partners yet, the list includes many of the ENR top 10 design, construction and owner companies.
Researchers hope that the initiative will advance both the application of AI in construction and the science of AI research in general.
“We believe our interdisciplinary team together with the broader AI community can address the urgent productivity, safety and maintenance problems of the construction industry, and that doing so will drive foundational advances in AI that enable broader application across many other industries,” Golparvar-Fard said.
Once considered futuristic, artificial intelligence has been made more accessible and integral to contractors in recent years by several burgeoning startups, through programs such as OpenSpace and Smartvid.io.
Other artificial intelligence-powered companies offering digital solutions for construction managers announced new rounds of funding to grow their businesses recently.
Even mainline construction technology firms are touting the applications of AI in construction, as Procore is doing at its annual Groundbreak conference this week.
Late last year, Alice, an AI-based simulation platform for construction, closed $8 million in Series A funding round led by Merus Capital with participation from Foundamental, Blackhorn Ventures and Lightspeed Venture Partners. Alice uses AI to help analyze the flows of labor and equipment throughout a jobsite.
In use by firms such as DPR Construction, Mortenson and Parsons, the technology allows users to explore a variety of building plans in real-time and understand the impact of key construction decisions on project cost and duration. The firm says that its customers have cut project duration by 16% and labor costs by nearly 15%.
In addition, Disperse, creator of an AI-powered platform that captures and processes visual data from physical sites to help streamline the construction process, raised $15 million of Series A funding in a round led by venture capital firm Northzone.
The program integrates construction schedules, 2D drawings, 3D models and visual snapshots from a construction site and processes them to create an interactive digital twin. The system quantifies progress, highlights bottlenecks and flags early warning signs of potential issues, allowing for improved delivery and standardization of best practices.
The London-based firm estimates that superintendents and construction managers using the system spend up to 25% less time doing site walks and reporting progress, and senior schedulers spend up to 60% less time collecting data, creating progress reports and updating schedules.