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
Concrete can adapt to any shape its formwork calls for while it’s being placed. While it’s POSSIBLE to make intricate designs with the material, it’s not always easy or practical to do so. Researchers from ETH Zurich have designed a new method of forming and placing an ultra-thin, curved concrete roof system that they plan on installing on a construction project next year.
The immense technological growth the construction industry has seen in the past decade has been a refreshing change, to say the least. Fax machines, large filing cabinets, and redundant work are slowly becoming a thing of the past. More importantly, software developers are actually paying attention to the construction industry, making our lives collectively easier, while giving us more data to make better decisions. Bluebeam, maker of one of the industry’s favorite construction document software, has recently announced a wireless digital sensor specifically for under construction buildings.
In July, we shared an article about a new augmented reality app that would allow iPhone and iPad users to use their devices’s camera as a tape measure. That app, Air Measure, is now available for download after Apple’s iOs 11 release.
As electric vehicles are becoming more and more popular around the world, researchers are trying to find ways to adapt the technology to heavier duty applications. Due to the large size of projects and amount of money in the industry, the mining industry has seen its fair share of technological advancement. Several manufacturers, like Komatsu, have developed and released driverless dump trucks for mining operations in the past few years. A team of companies in Switzerland is now working on a gigantic battery powered dump truck that will be tested for 10 years.
CAT, the name synonymous with heavy construction equipment across the world, has been slowly adding technology to its brand over the past year. Early last year, the company announced it would be releasing a rugged smart phone, which was also the first ever to have a built-in thermal imaging camera. This year, they’re releasing their first step into the world of tablets.
Video feeds on a construction site are not only great for timelapse videos, they can potentially help stop intruders who enter your site.
On August 18th, around 200 new tools were showcased at the annual DeWalt Media Event. This particular event was held in Nashville, Tennessee, where you can’t escape country music no matter how hard you try.
Below are what we thought were the highlights of the event. Let us know what new release you’re most excited about!
Falls from height is one of the leading causes of death among construction workers and ladders are a major contributor to that number. According to the CDC, falls from ladders caused 64 fatalities and 11,500 injuries in the construction industry alone in 2011. There are many things ladder users can do to make their work safer, like setting it at proper angles on level ground, checking for damage, and maintaining 3 points of contact, among others. One technology company is trying to take some of the thinking out of ladder set up.
Almost exactly 2 years ago, we shared details about an autonomous, driverless construction work zone vehicle that would be the first to hit US streets of its kind. That vehicle is gearing up to hit US streets as the Colorado Department of Transportation has teamed up with its developers.
When construction companies initially started to adopt mobile technologies like tablets and smartphones, there was a race between many construction technology companies to be the future leader in the area. As the years rolled on, it became less and less likely that one app was going to be the end-all-be-all, like AutoCAD became in the architectural design world. There’s not one app out there right now that provides every single function that a construction company needs, because each company is very unique. The solution? Integration.