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AI-supported robots are moving across Seattle construction sites, accelerating the building process and enhancing safety.



The construction industry has always been a mix of high-tech and manual labor, but now companies like Skanska are incorporating autonomous robots into their construction projects to improve efficiency and safety. Skanska is utilizing two Didge robots from Nextera Robotics to help build a 31-story apartment building in Seattle’s Belltown neighborhood. The robots take high-resolution, 360-degree photographs of the project site, providing architects and developers with real-time updates on progress and improving quality assurance.

Stewart Germain, Skanska’s director of innovation, highlighted the importance of photography in construction projects. The Didge robots free up human workers who would otherwise spend 40 hours per week capturing images around the site. The robots are able to navigate the project site, climb stairs, and capture high-definition images consistently. These images are then uploaded to Nextera’s AI platform, which helps track progress, ensure quality control, and monitor job site safety compliance.

In addition to photography, the Didge robots also assist in tracking the build progress by comparing the images to Skanska’s building information modeling (BIM). This allows global companies like Skanska to effectively communicate with their design architects located in different parts of the world. The AI on the Didge platform is trained to analyze images for safety compliance, identifying potential hazards such as uncovered holes, inadequate lighting, or workers not following safety regulations.

Alex Rand, CTO at Nextera Robotics, explained that the AI integrated within the Didge platform is trained to recognize hundreds of types of objects and detect safety concerns based on OSHA requirements and client standards like Skanska. The Didge robots provide a constant monitoring system across the project site, ensuring that safety protocols are followed and construction progresses as planned. This level of automation and monitoring is a significant advancement for the industry.

The Didge robots are part of a growing trend in the construction industry towards greater integration of technology solutions. Skanska is also utilizing another robot solution from Dusty Robotics for framing and drywall work on the same project. Stewart Germain sees the potential for combining different technologies seamlessly in the construction industry. Beyond robots, other technological advancements such as drones, virtual and augmented reality, 3D laser scanning, and 3D printing are also transforming the way projects are designed and executed.

Stewart Germain views the use of Didge robots in the construction industry as cutting-edge and is optimistic about the future of technology in commercial development and construction. The adoption of autonomous robots like Didge is a significant step towards streamlining processes, improving safety, and enhancing efficiency in construction projects. As the construction industry continues to embrace technology, companies like Skanska are leading the way in integrating innovative solutions to drive progress and deliver better outcomes.

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