- A Saxonburg, PA, construction firm has developed a new autonomous robot that can tie rebar to form bridge decks, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.
- Under the supervision of only one worker, the robot, dubbed Tybot, can expand on a frame up to 140 feet across a bridge's width. The company estimates the robotic arm can halve labor hours and reduce injuries workers incur while straddling rebar frames.
- The robot which will reduce the number of required laborers, speed up work and reduce costs, can tie intersections at any time, freeing limited crews to focus on other work.
Although construction often has been accused of being late to the technology adoption game, more developments in the con-tech space have been coming to light recently, showing the industry's progress toward a technologically advanced world.
Drones, for one, are becoming more popular tools on construction sites. They can provide aerial images of an entire site and map hundreds of acres on a job site it then turns into usable data. Russ Burns, president of Chicago-based AEC firm Clayco, told Construction Dive earlier this year that the drone itself isn't what will change the industry, rather, it's the data the drone will be able to provide.
After Hurricanes Harvey and Irma in September, the FAA fast-tracked drone approval to use the tools to help assess damage more quickly and thereby speed recovery efforts. Drone use in those efforts will likely serve as a litmus test for the technology's more widespread use in the industry.
Three-dimensional printing is another emerging tech trend. Last week, the Netherlands opened the world’s first 3-D printed concrete bridge, intended for pedestrians and cyclists, to the public. Oak Ridge National Laboratory showed off a fully functional 3-D printed excavator at ConExpo earlier this year. Although 3-D printing remains cost prohibitive for many, it's a technology to keep a pulse on to see how it'll affect the industry in years to come.
More companies are also recognizing the safety and training benefits virtual and augmented reality provide. Serious Labs, which makes VR simulation technology for workforce training, raised $5 million in equity funding earlier this year. It intends to expand its VR training portfolio to include heavy machinery such as cranes, forklifts, backhoes and skid steers. Augmented reality, which adds digital layers to real-world scenarios, thus far has focused on task-specific use cases such as equipment repair and visualizations.