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
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.
Communication is key to a safe and productive construction environment. One of the biggest challenges of effective communication on job sites is the complexity and size of the project, which inhibits being able to contact the correct people in a timely manner. Tracking devices have been a hot button issue in construction news for the last few years. Some examples include RFID tag sensors in hard hats, such as the one being used on certain job sites in Washington DC and time sheet applications, which allow employers to track their employee’s locations using the GPS on their phone’s or tablets.
In March of this year, Elon Musk announced that Tesla would begin taking orders on their Solar Roof Shingle concept. Tesla Solar Roof is a solar power roof system that eliminates the need for bulky solar panels installed over top of traditional roof materials. Instead, the shingles themselves, which come in a variety of different styles, are the solar panels.
At the company’s second quarter earnings report, Tesla announced that the first solar roof installations have been completed.
[guest post] The progress of construction sites is usually captured by taking still photos of different areas that have been subject to change. Documenting a full construction site requires a lot of pictures (usually more than ten per room), and even then not every corner of a room can be captured.
Standard vertical elevators have had it too good, for too long. After the first cable dependent elevator was unveiled in 1857, not much has changed in the elevator industry. They’re still using cable systems and still only going up and down. But not anymore. ThyssenKrupp has officially made a multi-directional elevator a reality.