While Google has been testing their driverless car for months and months, with mixed results, the construction industry will actually be the first to enjoy the benefits of the developing technology.
Royal Truck & Equipment has developed a driverless Truck Mounted Attenuator (TMA) truck that they hope will save lives and reduce injury of construction workers on highway work zones. We see the non-driverless trucks everywhere, their purpose is to follow behind a road crew as a highly visible warning sign to other drivers on the road. They have an impact absorbing attachment on the back of the truck that reduces the damage from impact that these trucks experience daily.
The Autonomous TMA (ATMA) truck was created because Royal Truck & Equipment realized that it was a bit silly that in order to protect drivers and workers ahead of the truck, they had a human driving the truck whom would be susceptible to injury.
“I can tell you that these things (TMA trucks) are hit almost on a daily basis and they actually save lives,” said Robert Roy, President of Royal Truck & Equipment.
With the help of Micro Systems, developer of many different unmanned military vehicles which also save many America lives, the ATMA has become a reality and will hit streets soon. It works by using GPS data from the vehicle in front of the leader car, which tells the ATMA how fast and in which direction the leader car is moving.
Removing humans from being a shield for injury is obviously a step in the right direction, though it is still a bit scary to trust a vehicle driven by a computer system. It will be interesting to see if and how this technology could be adapted to other situations in the construction industry in years to come.
According to NBC News, the first ATMA truck is expected to be on Florida streets later this year.
Video below shows a demonstration of the ATMA in action:
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.