AI in construction: A Boston-based company is developing a technology that will detect and control machinery and risk factors through drones to reduce work accidents
Suffolk, a Boston-based general contractor in the construction world with an annual turnover of $ 3 billion, is developing an interesting Artificial Intelligence application: an algorithm that analyzes photos taken by drones on construction sites, examining any risks relating to workers safety.
In practice, the A.I. correlates the images taken on sites with the accidents reports that are recorded in a database together with heavy vehicles routes (tracks), understanding which and how many risks are involved during specific processing or in a specific area of the construction site.
The company is still fine-tuning technology, but it claims that could potentially calculate “risk ratings” for projects, so that health and safety managers can be aware of possible threats.
Every year the majority of work accidents around the world happen on construction sites and construction workers are five times higher more exposed to risks than any other type of worker. Therefore, it is evident that the injuries reduction represents a priority for the construction industry on a global level, also because accidents affect construction scheduling and costs.
Suffolk, like all construction companies, every year generates / stores a lot of data, site reports, photos, supplier contracts and inspection records.
For this reason, they are writing an algorithm by analyzing the information from a plurality of sources, even acquiring them from their archives, accumulated for over 10 years of work. The results of this research could subsequently be communicated to building owners, subcontractors, and security coordinators who, in turn, could use them to reduce risk factors.
In addition, Suffolk is also exploring new ways to use data from IoT sensors with the aim of increasing the efficiency of building processes.
A particularly innovative idea is to trace the position of trucks and all the moving vehicles on a construction site and to understand the routes and possible risk factors. Furthermore, technology could facilitate the work itself, for example by pre-alerting the workers handling concrete before the arrival of trucks.
Basically, the model elaborated by these data identifies the degree of risk of a process or a construction site, signalling possible sources of accidents so that it would be possible to take actions on time in order to prevent them.
This type of injury data processing is still rare in US construction, partly because proven-traditional methods are hardly abandoned by operators even if they are the most potentially dangerous.
However, the lack of manpower and the desire to increase low productivity rates of the industry are forcing some companies to invest in artificial intelligence applied to construction sector. The promoters of this innovation believe that the trend could transform the sector with a global profit of 13 trillion dollars. Already about 20 construction companies in the United States have in recent years launched various initiatives involving the use of artificial intelligence, and Suffolk is one of these pioneers.
The future of BIM
Artificial Intelligenca will also have an impact on BIM (Building Information Modelling), or the digital process through which it is possible to follow a project lifecycle in all its aspects.
Artificial Intelligence can use images generated by drones and data collected with technological tools to create models similar to those developed by BIM, making it easier to compare them with one another.
Let’s see a preview of CerTus HSBIM, the 3D and 4D BIM modelling software for health and safety on a construction site.