AEC Innovations

Closing the Loop Between BIM and the Field

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When Tessa began remodeling her house, she noticed the construction crews were working on their hands and knees. She wondered how she could help them through robotic automation and digitization. Thus, she decided to put on a hardhat and steel-toed boots, and examine construction sites to discover which iterated and laborious tasks could benefit from robot-powered tools. This is how she founded Dusty Robotics, a Silicon Valley-based construction startup, which focuses on closing the loop between the BIM and the field. This article summarizes what Tessa shared with the AI4AECO community in July.

Challenges within Construction Sites

The construction industry is fragmented, and most key processes of construction projects are managed on Excel or with pen and paper. When you go into the field, you see people with measuring tapes and string, interpreting those paper plans, and manually turning them into constructible layouts. Such a process is error-prone, and contributes to job delays and missed budgets. About 10% of every project’s budget is allocated to fixing errors that crop up during construction, including errors made during the floor plan lay out. The errors during laying out floor plans cost the industry about $128 billion a year to correct. So, how can automation and digitization help minimize errors during construction?

Robots Applications within Construction Sites

Misreading the measuring tape or snapping a chalk line in the wrong place are common errors during floor plan lay out. To minimize these mistakes and reworks, Dusty Robotics uses robotically controlled and driven technology to precisely print CAD designs on the floor, so builders and field crews can assemble the building correctly, without reworks.

Dusty Robotics’ robots are autonomous and use AI path planning and navigation to move from one point to another. As long as the robots are given accurate control points on the ground, they can map the exact CAD layout on the floor within a 16th of an inch. In addition, if a CAD model given to the robots includes information about the placement of columns, steps, or other obstacles, the robots can mark them automatically. Dusty Robotics is working to add sensors to the robots, to enhance path planning and navigation. Dusty Robotics supports all different forms of interior layout in buildings, including MEP systems and drywall. In addition, the robots can print all details of a CAD model on the floor, such as room name, number, paint colors on the wall, the finish of the floors, and the height of the ceiling. To map and outline the MEP system, the robots print the layout of ductworks (HVAC system), hanger points, and the details about dimensions and angles on a deck. Then, subcontractors use a laser scanner to trace the printed point into the ceiling in order to hang the straps holding up the ductwork that gets installed overhead. Subcontractors can also leverage the info printed by the robots on the ground to figure out which MEP components should be installed above the ground.

The Process of Dusty Robotics’ Technology

Humans will be still needed

Currently, laying out floor plans during construction need the construction workforce to be on their hands and knees, which is a physical strain. With Dusty Robotics, the construction workforce can get their hands on robots instead of chalk, which will complete the layout faster and more precisely. For example, a construction company hired Dusty Robotics to complete layouts for a 13 story multifamily residential building in San Francisco. Besides complex floor plans and a non-rectilinear grid system, each floor contained about 20 studio apartments. Using only three robots, the team could layout each floor in just a day with no rework necessary later. As a result, the client saved on time and budget, and also enhanced their bottom line by 20%. Thus, robots are not taking our jobs, but are instead helping us with efficiency, accuracy, and cost-effectiveness.

To learn more about Dusty Robotics’ technology, check out https://www.dustyrobotics.com/


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