Road construction is rarely an ideal place for anything. 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.
For technology companies, like those working on self-driving cars, coding in a static environment can be easy. But, throw a constantly changing and non-standardized situation at them and things can get infinitely more complicated. There are many cues on highways that generally look the same, like mile markers, speed limit signs, stop signs, and road markings that autonomous vehicles rely on to navigate. When road construction is introduced, however, things are not so cut and dry. There are a variety of different ways that workers can sign and barricade construction zones and those variances are causing issues with coding, according to Wired.
From December 2015 to November 2016, self-driving car companies have gathered data regarding what caused crashes and what caused the humans to have to take control of the vehicle. Construction zones were reported to be one of the more common reasons that humans had to take control. As Wired points out, a large majority State and local DOTs also do not have a database that shows where currently active construction sites are. Having a reliable database would allow the cars avoid those areas all together.
There are some possible solutions, however, but they will require a lot of work. The construction zones aren’t really a huge problem for cars that still having a steering wheel and pedal, as long as someone is physically able to operate it. For those who cannot, or in cars that don’t have a steering wheel or pedals, some companies are planning to open call centers to help the car navigate around trouble areas.
Another option uses short range communication technology to allow the cars to speak to each other which could alert other cars of a hazard up ahead. According to Wired, “the National Highway Safety Administration plans to mandate that all new cars come equipped with this ‘talking’ tech by 2020.”
While not directly a problem for the construction industry to solve, as self-driving technology becomes more and more viable, some changes will probably need to be made. After driving in different states around the country, it’s clear that standard practices for signage and barricades need to be addressed and enforced, but it’s unclear exactly how that should happen.
Full story: Why Self-Driving Cars *Can’t Even* with Construction Zones | Wired
It’s that time again to begin Construction Junkie’s annual search for the best construction podcast! Last year, newcomer to the scene ConTechTrio took home the crown for best podcast and they’re continuing to make waves on the platform, with interviews with heavy hitter guests from the world of construction each episode. 2015’s winner was Cesar Abeid’s Construction Industry Podcast, but unfortunately there have not been any new shows released since August of 2015.
read on to nominate your favorite podcast
One of the most challenging issues with modular construction, of any kind, is the sheer size and weight of many of the components that need to be transported and lifted in place once onsite. That presents a specifically tough situation for jobsites that are not easy to get to. Arup, a design, engineering, and consulting team in the United Kingdom, has developed and successfully implemented what they say is the “world’s first modular glass-fiber, reinforced polymer bridge.” You may remember Arup from their testing of a “living wall” scaffolding cover that we wrote about last year.
Snow causes all kinds of travel nightmares and not just on the roads. Snow and ice can cause major airline delays and flight cancellations. Because of these issues (and the large amounts of money to be gained by solving them) several different groups of researchers have been hard at work figuring out ways to reduce and remove snow and ice from pavement without the need for chemicals and snow plows. The first technology to get a full scale test slab installed at an American airport, however, came from Iowa State University professor Halil Ceylan.
The world’s first 3D printed excavator was not the only piece of construction equipment to hold that title at this year’s CONEXPO-CON/AGG in Las Vegas. LiuGong, an international construction equipment manufacturer founded in China, also unveiled the world’s first vertical lift wheel loader at the event.
In 2015, Milwaukee released their robust smart tool management platform, ONE-KEY. The smartphone and web application allows users to not only keep data of their tools spread across different users and jobsites, but it also offers tool customization and tool tracking, for tools that are enabled with ONE-KEY. Earlier this year, the platform got a major upgrade with the release of added tool security, which allow users to hide tools, lock the trigger or footpad, or completely render the tool useless remotely if lost or stolen.
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Construction apps are popping up all over the place and it’s getting increasingly difficult to determine which ones are right for you personally or right for your business. The truth is, there probably isn’t one application that will meet all of your needs. Procore, one of the leaders in construction project management software, recognized this issue and decided to do something about it.
Solar roofs are an obviously popular choice for those interested in conserving energy, but traditional panels are extremely clunky and expensive. Tesla and CEO Elon Musk announced last year that they have solved that issue, which the impending release of Tesla Solar Roof, which look like a traditional roof shingle.
3D printing has had to overcome plenty of obstacles, including materials, mobility, weather, and height. Slowly, but surely, technology companies are beginning to overcome these challenges. A 400 square foot house was recently printed in concrete on-site, in less than 24 hours and in freezing temperatures. Other companies are working on perfecting 3D printed steel for pedestrian bridges. Height limitations seem to be the hardest problem to solve, however.
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.