BUILDING SYSTEMS AND CONCEPTS
Miroslaw J. Skibniewski
This review discusses examples of the latest developments in robotics technologies in the United States that may be of interest to construction robot systems developers. Both theoretical, far-reaching research such as collaborative robotics as well as hardware systems oriented R&D is included in the paper. Examples of the latest industry initiatives and consortia activities are also described.
The population of robots nearly doubled over the last decade in North America alone, and they are becoming increasingly important in applications ranging from quality control to space exploration, surgery to the service industries. The industry recently has seen the emergence of new types of devices, including tiny micro- and nano-robots and robots with multiple arms or legs.
Popular attitudes toward robots have changed over the years. The fear that robots would replace workers has disappeared. Instead of displacing large numbers of employees in manufacturing, robots have brought about a more highly-trained workforce better capable of running robots and computers. Research conducted by the author on behalf of CSIRO-Australia as early as 1992 indicated positive attitudes among Australian construction workers toward automation and robotics. There are many more trained people in robotics now, but some new challenges for robotics researchers are better human-robot collaboration interfaces, robot mobility and navigation in unknown surroundings, and better robot intelligence for service industries such as construction and for public transportation.