Robotics and Automation in ABC Projects: Exploratory Phase

Link to Latest Report: September 2019 Progress Report

Background:

The majority of bridge elements (such as full-depth deck panels, superstructure girders, bent caps, and columns) are prefabricated in a controlled environment, therefore, they are qualified to be constructed through automated process such as 3D-printing or contour crafting (CC) using mobile robots. In addition, in-suit construction activities associated with ABC (such as connections between prefabricated elements, repairing damaged elements, and upgrading existing substructure elements) are candidates for automated construction through the use of mobile robots. The advances in robotics and automation in construction industry is not comparable to the advances in other sectors such as automobile, aircraft, electronics, etc. because, the current conventional construction and design approaches are not suitable for automation; lower ratio of production of final projects as compared to other industries; and limitation in materials that could be employed by automation. Since ABC projects utilize prefabricated elements and in-suit connections between prefabricated elements through nozzle injection and employed materials, Automation and Robotics are qualified for ABC. This proposal suggests feasibility studies for types of robots and systems, suitable for ABC along with identifying the suitable materials, ABC elements and connections which are used in automation process. Several advantages can be achieved by integrating automation and robotics with ABC techniques including increasing construction quality and reducing accident rate at construction sites. This study will be limited to feasibility investigation.

Objective:

The main objectives of this project are:

  1. Conduct a comprehensive search to identify the application of robotic in construction worldwide.
  2. Identifying the list of robots, materials, ABC elements, and ABC in-suit connections which are suitable to be used in automation of ABC projects.
  3. Develop a roadmap for application of robotic in ABC.

Scope:

An overview of the study tasks is given below.

  • Task 1Worldwide Literature Search
    • Under this task, a comprehensive literature search will be conducted to completely comprehend the application of robotics in construction.
  • Task 2–  Feasibility Study on Application of Automation and Robotics in ABC
    • In this task, a comprehensive feasibility study will be carried out to review the current development of automation and robotics techniques feasible for ABC. Different techniques of additive manufacture (3D-Printing) are identified during the preparation of this proposal such as blinder Jetting, contour crafting (CC), and stick dispenser. Part of the feasibility study includes a review of state-of-the-art findings of using additive manufacture in mobile robots.
  • Task 3 – Identification of List of Robots Suitable for ABC
    • In this task, a comprehensive review of the current types of robots will be conducted. The purpose of this task is to identify the more suitable types of robots in ABC projects taking into account the differences in ABC techniques.
  • Task 4 -Identification of List of Materials Suitable for Automated Construction using Robots
    • In this task, a comprehensive review for materials which are currently used in automated construction will be conducted. The purpose of this task is to identify the more suitable materials for automated construction in ABC projects taking into account the differences in ABC techniques.
  • Task 5 Identification of Suitable Prefabricated Elements and Systems Suitable for Application of Robotic in ABC
    • Oftentimes, the use of robotics is viewed as simply replacing human with robots. This is a very simplistic view of automation. Under this task, at least one ABC system will be identified that could be constructed using robotics. For this system, different elements of the automation will be identified and a roadmap for conducting experimental study will be developed. The conduct of experimental study will be the focus of future studies.
  • Task 6 Development of Scope of Work for Next Phase of the Study
    • Under this investigation, project findings will be used to develop a scope of work for the next phase of the study.

Research Team:
Principal Investigator:  Dr. Islam Mantawy
Co-Principal Investigator: Dr. Atorod Azizinamini
Research Assistant: To be determined

Previous Progress Reports: