The 30 year mark for predictions made by the movie Back to the Future has come and gone, which has sparked a lot of speculation as to what the next 30 years will look like on Earth. Though we didn’t get everything that the movie had promised, the amount of technological advances that have already been made obsolete by newer and better technology is nothing short of amazing.
Dr. Ian Pearson, a Doctor of Science and full time futurologist in conjunction with Hewden, a UK equipment rental firm, recently created a report to show us what he believes the construction industry will look like in the year 2045, titled 2045: Constructing the Future. In the report, Dr. Pearson discusses advances in material technologies, building practices, half human/half machine workers, augmented reality, and smart buildings.
Dr. Pearson’s report indicates that overall, building materials will not only continue to be stronger, but also lighter, making it easier to build oddly shaped structures. We’ve seen it a lot in recent years, so don’t expect that to change on the future. He’s not just talking about structural elements either, even glass and composites will be made stronger and lighter, with the use of Graphene, Carbon Nanotubes, and other currently non-existent materials. One of the more interesting predictions he makes in this section is spray-on solar coatings, which would make solar panels next to invisible.
3D printing, which has made waves in the news in the recent past will also make humongous strides forward, as you might imagine. Ultra-fine detail work will become easier and easier, so we could be seeing more buildings that could bring back some of the charm the world’s older buildings have.
Humans and Robots
Exoskeletons are currently being developed and used that allow paraplegic adults to walk upright and allow construction workers to hold 50 pound pieces of equipment with no effort. The report predicts that technology will continue to progress, ultimately making a human operated robot with many Inspector Gadget-like features, see picture below.
It’s certainly getting easier and easier to build mega tall structures, with 9 buildings currently in development that would dwarf America’s tallest building, the Willis Tower. Dr. Pearson concludes that this trend will continue and the buildings will be treated more like mini-cities, just like the Burj Khalifa. He goes as far to say that London could potentially have a building that stands 18 miles high with a space pod on top. If that’s true, it’s only a matter of time before the extreme sports enthusiasts try to find a way to jump off of it. The photo below is a rendering of the London Skyline in 2045
Not only will buildings be built taller and taller, Dr. Pearson predicts that they’ll be built with less windows, as well. The windows will instead be replaced with either augmented reality or projection displays, which would reduce maintenance, reduce cost, and make the rooms attractive without a “view” of the outside.
We certainly encourage you all to check out the full report that Dr. Pearson and his colleagues spent so much time on, so, for that reason, we’ll skip over the transportation section and tease you with the picture below:
Impact of Technological Advances in Construction
So what does this all mean for the poor saps working in construction right now and who plan to still be working in 2045? Well, don’t be too worried about all those robots. Dr. Pearson points out that all of the new materials and techniques will require workers to learn new skills, but that those new roles could lead to higher salaries and satisfaction with their jobs. Workers in the future will start to think of robots as their “colleagues,” instead of, like we do with the equipment now, as just machines. The economic impact is bright as well, with estimates that, by 2045, the construction economy will double.
To download the full 13-page report, follow this link http://www.constructingthefuture.com