The construction industry faces many workforce-related challenges, including a shortage of skilled workers and high accident and injury rates. The use of robotic technologies to augment construction workers can alleviate these challenges, as well as enable new construction techniques and work opportunities. This project seeks to transform the nature of construction work by removing barriers to the formation of human-robot teams on the jobsite. Working together with skilled trade workers, robots have the potential to lower construction costs through more precise cutting and placing actions that reduce waste. Human-robot teams can also increase safety and efficiency by reducing the risk of overexertion and injury to workers. Using methods from computer science, construction engineering, and social science, the purpose of this research is to (a) re-define construction tasks by translating the means and methods of trade work into common actions that can be interpreted and performed by robotic systems, and (b) explore how robotic systems can be integrated into current and future human-robot construction teams, as an integral part of the worker, knowledge, task, and resource networks on the jobsite. This project is a collaborative effort between faculty at the University of Florida, Penn State University, and Clemson University.
National Science Foundation (Awards #1928415, 1928626, and 1928527)
The research is organized around three thrusts, each focused on overcoming a specific barrier to the adoption of robotic technologies on construction sites: Thrust #1 (Penn State): The hierarchy of construction tasks for robots; Thrust #2 (Clemson): the design of human-robot teams that leverage emerging technologies and methods within the construction domain; and Thrust #3 (University of Florida): the modeling of industrialized project networks needed to manage the roles of robots.
The goal of Thrust #3 is to model the changing roles and interfaces of workers (both human and robot), operational knowledge needs, site resources and construction tasks. This goal will be achieved through the completion of three objectives. The first objective will determine how human workers on construction teams perceive robotic systems as network nodes in an industrialized construction site, using cultural consensus analysis and semi-structured interviews. The second objective will determine what network linkages are necessary to support robotics on construction sites, using focus groups and embedded researchers. Lastly, the third objective will determine whether the addition of robots on construction sites makes the project more (or less) vulnerable to unplanned events. This objective will use meta-network analysis to consider the state of the industrialized network, both before and after a simulated disruption. Taken together, this thrust will develop a thorough understanding of the impact that robotic systems will have on the resilience of industrialized construction networks, as well as the conditions that make site operations more vulnerable to uncertainty