Brickies, sparks and chippies might find themselves out of projects from 2050 because of the rise of robo-builders, with construction sites getting virtually human-free zones.
The forecast comes from infrastructure giant Balfour Beatty that has gone gazing that is future to predict exactly what the business could look like in 3 decades’ time.
The FTSE 250 company admits its vision “may seem far-fetched” but notes that “electronic technology has revolutionised contemporary life to such a degree that it is not so tough to envision radical changes for construction”.
Building sites of 2050 will possess autonomous cranes and diggers, and robots working to construct constructions using new substances that might even repair themselves, based on Balfour.
Ome structures will also self-assemble, while fleets of drones will soar overhead, so continuously tracking work to check it is all up to standard, and collecting vast amounts of data to create 3D and even 4D versions that may be analysed by computers to spot problems before they happen.
If humans do get a look-in on website, they’re likely to be sporting “exoskeletons” that use neural technology. This tracks brainwaves and could be employed to control the robots and machines really doing the work.
Balfour believes it is more likely that human involvement will be restricted to tracking exactly what other machines and the robots will be up to by control bases where they might oversee several jobs at the same time.
The rise of the machines will probably eliminate several low-skill, low-wage tasks on site and that there could be fewer people demanded in additional labour intensive positions, states Balfour. This would be bad news to the 2.6m people currently working in the industry based on the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB).
Owever, Balfour does anticipate improvements in technology to drive a demand for more specialist abilities and “digital natives” to operate ever-evolving engineering, meaning the construction industry would increasingly find itself competing with tech firms for employees.
Advances in construction are very likely to be driven by need a movement.
Another force behind the move to building sites is urbanisation and population growth, creating the demand for construction work to be more efficient and productive — areas where machines excel.
“We are experiencing an electronic revolution, redefining the way we as a business operate,” explained Leo Quinn, leader of Balfour. “By adopting and embracing the rise of electronic solutions we’re more able to provide efficient, safer and effective alternatives to our clients and customers.”
The predictions indicate the thinking of their CITB, which acknowledges the expanding role engineering plays in the industry.
Gillian Econopouly, the board’s head of policy and research, said that offsite construction can revolutionise the industry, and “create new jobs and the demand for more workers with attributes like imagination, problem solving and agility, along with electronic abilities.
“Technology also offers a large opportunity to attract new entrants into the industry — particularly young individuals who naturally incorporate digital platforms into their everyday lives.
“We are also seeing opportunities to incorporate new technologies into construction training itself — thus using plant simulators to get a much safer, more environmentally friendly means to train plant operatives, or coaching workers to fly drones to evaluate roofs and other structures at height. “