Balfour Beatty believes the construction site of 2050 will be in stark contrast to what we see today – predicting it will be human-free with work moved off-site, remote control of machinery and new materials and techniques exploited to improve cost, safety and efficiency.
The international infrastructure group has laid out its vision in its paper “Innovation 2050: A Digital Future for the Infrastructure Industry”.
While Balfour Beatty’s prediction for a human-free construction site may seem far-fetched, technology has already revolutionised contemporary life to such an extent that it’s not so hard to imagine radical changes for construction not least the emergence of new roles and the requirement and evolution of new skills to support delivery of the future pipeline of construction projects.
In its latest paper Balfour Beatty sets out to examine the pace and rate of change within the industry, with digital technology the catalyst and driver to such change; change that is already happening and is inevitable.
In Balfour’s vision of the future they see robots working in teams to build complex structures faster and safer using dynamic new materials as elements of the build self assemble.
In Balfour’s vision of the future they see robots working in teams to build complex structures faster and safer using dynamic new materials as elements of the build self assemble. Drones will fly overhead scanning the site, inspecting the work and using that data collected to solve problems before they arise sending instructions to robotic cranes, diggers and builders.
Balfour suggests humans will simply manage multiple projects remotely accessing 3D and 4D visuals from data and onsite machines. Any humans found on site will wear robotically enhanced exoskeletons and use neural control technology to operate machinery reducing health and injury risk and enhancing productivity.
2050 is only 32 years away. 32 years ago a mobile telephone was an exclusive, expensive brick on which you could only make calls – now 75% of the world’s population has a smart phone.