Though concrete is the foundation of today’s construction industry, it’s a flawed material that cracks, stains and crumbles over time and exposure to the elements and pollution. A software designer and researcher says emerging technologies “will soon radically change how the construction industry builds and what it builds with.”
The four forces that will transform construction, he says, are robotics, new materials, additive manufacturing and synthetic brains. The transformation will reduce construction defects and related litigation and enable “smarter and more sustainably built cities,” writes Massimiliano Moruzzi of Autodesk Research’s Computational Science group in Construction Executive magazine.
Moruzzi says robotics will power automated ecosystems that will produce “smart” buildings. An example: smart, composite building materials will be able to detect your level of comfort and adjust temperature to suit you.
“Smart” has another meaning in this context, Moruzzi says. The adjective can refer as well to sustainable materials and construction methods.
He says robotics and 3D printing will mean houses “can be manufactured in ways previously impossible for humans to accomplish by hand.” The emerging technologies will allow construction of structures other than right-angled ones and out of materials other than concrete, steel and wood.
Cotton, carbon fiber, polymer and silk are several engineered and natural materials that could be used in new-generation construction. Their advantages are that they are “sustainable, lightweight and cheaper alternatives to dense and inflexible concrete,” Moruzzi wrote.
3D printing also enables the inclusion of sensors and wires in the building process, he says, which will give houses, office buildings, roads and bridges “the ability to monitor themselves-measuring temperature, pressure and other parameters like the human nervous system does.”
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