Construction sites are some of the most dangerous places in the world. Couple a job site with the general public and they’re disasters waiting to happen. According to the American Road & Transportation Builders Association, 579 people were killed in highway work-zone related accidents in just 2013 alone. Equipment, machines, and clothing are becoming “smarter” every day, even things we never thought about as technology, such as the recent development of the smart hard hat. Tapping into technology allows users greater and easier access to ever important data and, in some instances, safer work environments.
Professor Tom Martin and Kristen Hines, engineers at Virginia Tech, hope to greatly reduce that number with their recent development of a smart safety vest that gives several seconds of warning to workers if danger is approaching. With their creation of the InZone Alert system, workers can be alerted by flashing light, audible alarms, or physical alarms, such as vibrations or compression of your clothing if a car is approaching too quickly or too closely. The researchers’ goal is to create alerts that are distinctive, but won’t startle the user.
With the ever improving technology of vehicles, the Virginia Tech team also hopes to integrate communication between the vest and cars driving by with the use of short range radio signals. That would add to the safety features of the vest by also alerting the driver of the vehicle that they are in immediate danger of causing an accident.
Initial tests of the InZone Alert system have wielded success rates of 90 percent. The higher the percentage, the better, because frequent false alarms would result in users ignoring the alarms or greatly reducing job site productivity. The Virginia Tech Transportation Institute has been conducting testing of the vest on the Virginia Smart Road in Blacksburg, VA, which is a closed course test road for research purposes.
Check out the video of the smart vest below!
FULL STORY: RESEARCHERS' PROTOTYPE VEST OFFERS A WARNING SYSTEM FOR ROADSIDE CONSTRUCTION WORKERS, RESCUE PERSONNEL | Virginia Tech
Remote sites have extreme challenges, like finding enough staff to work the jobs and being able to get materials to the site. Large mining operations have turned to self-driving dump trucks, like this 320 Ton mega machine, for a few years now. But, Lockheed Martin, a giant in the world of global security and aerospace, has a different solution for remote sites.
3D printing technology faces major issues when it is required to leave the shelter of a warehouse and step foot on a construction job site. 3D printers are extremely large, heavy, and rely on precise calibration for accuracy. Even the first 3D printed office building in Dubai, which was completed last year, had to actually have its components printed off site and assembled on site. But, Apis Cor, a 3D printing company, believes it has created the technology to print a full structure completely on site.
Road construction is rarely an ideal place for many things. It’s unsafe for workers, it causes traffic issues, and nearby businesses can suffer from it. One more thing can be added to the list, as self-driving cars are also having a hard time navigating construction zones, as well.
In the construction world, 3D printing technology has traditionally focused on buildings and other static structures, like this 3D printed bridge in Madrid, Spain. Not anymore, though, as the world’s first 3D printed excavator was officially unveiled to the attendees at last week’s CONEXPO-CON/AGG 2017 in Las Vegas.
Augmented reality on construction job sites has been a focus of several technology companies in recent years. As of now the clear leaders in the category have been the DAQRI smart helmet and glasses and the MIcrosoft Hololens. Early this year, DAQRI introduced their new smart glasses, which are the lighter and more mobile version of their fully protective smart hard hat. The new DAQRI product is a clear competitor for Microsoft’s Hololens, which is also a smart headset product. Backed by the powerful construction technology company Trimble and in a partnership with the University of Cambridge, the Hololens is getting tested with 2 new concepts specifically for the construction industry: Automated Progress Monitoring and Automated Bridge Damage Detection.
The concept of a bubble has surprisingly inspired many designers within the construction industry in recent years. There’s the inflatable bubble building in Shanghai that is supposed to help air and light quality, the inflatable tunnel that will protect pedestrians and business during road construction in Canada, and even a solar cell that was created to be lighter than a soap bubble. We can now add Binishells to our list.
Construction workers work long hours in some pretty rough exterior conditions a lot of the time and there’s no doubt that fatigue is a major factor in job site accidents. In recent years, we’ve seen a few technological advances that will either reduce worker fatigue or sense it, including robotic attachments, lighter and less vibratory power tools, and camera systems on CAT machines that sense when drivers are closing their eyes too much. Recently, a company out of Australia has been developing a smart hard hat that sensors when mental fatigue has set in.
3D printed construction has been on top of the news the past few years, but we have yet to truly see many real world applications of the process. Last year, Dubai unveiled a completed 3D printed office building, which they say was built in only 19 days, but news has been pretty slow until the world’s first 3D printed bridge was completed recently.
As consistent and strong as wood, concrete, and steel have been for the past centuries, researchers and scientists are continually trying to improve them or create a better replacement product. Many have tried, but none have yet to succeed on a large scale. The latest scientific breakthrough takes a look at the geometry of a structure, rather than simply the material itself.