Roy Aniruddha, Founder, TechnoStruct Academy

In general, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a broad field of science that envelops a range of subjects from psychology, philosophy, computer science to linguistics. AI is primarily concerned with getting tasks done from computers using human data, which would normally require human intelligence. There is a growing need to adopt technological solutions powered by artificial intelligence algorithms These emerging AI-driven technologies have the capacity to help big or small-scale players overcome some of the industry’s most significant challenges, including schedule overruns, safety concerns, and costs.

About 7 percent of the world’s labor force is employed in the construction industry, so it is a major sector of the world economy. Individuals and businesses spend $10 trillion per year on construction-related activities (McKinsey, 2017). Other sectors have used AI and other technologies to transform their productivity performance. Construction, in comparison, has progressed at a glacial pace. Making a seamless transition to AI is the need of the hour to remain relevant in the post-industrial world for almost every sector, and the construction industry cannot remain impervious to it. Moreover, once fully embraced, AI in construction would offer many advantages. However, during the mass adoption of AI in construction, the companies will need to adopt AI in its evolved form with structural changes to serve its purpose as a decisive game-changer.

What Changes are AI Bringing to Construction or what are the areas where AI can be a game-changer?

One of the most prominent areas where AI can be the game-changer in the field of construction is Generative design that allows technology to mimic nature’s evolutionary approach to design. With the use of technology, computer scientists have found several ways to support the building design process. In the primary stages, the computer scientist starts with clearly specifying the design goals based on which he/she explores innumerable permutations that best suit the needs. Further, the project schedule optimizers can consider innumerable alternative permutations and combinations of project delivery and concurrently enhance project planning.

An emerging AI technique called reinforcement learning permits algorithms to learn based on trial and error, and it would provide effective optimization as well as solve for objective functions (e.g., duration or cost).

Autonomous quality-control systems can also combine AI and new technologies with other construction industry tools such as GPS and BIM. Artificial Intelligence will enable smarter construction across project lifecycles by modernizing operations and avoiding past mistakes.

AI provides insights into the project from building data, material data, and the data collected from the environment to identify the best way to design and develop a project.

AI can efficiently handle mundane day-to-day tasks without making errors and automatically delegating tasks to respective stakeholders based on experience, skill, and availability. Image recognition and classification can identify unsafe worker behavior patterns.

AI and ML: One of the main components of AI is Machine Learning (ML) – which has enabled the technology to make sense from heaps of data and learn from its algorithms. It further allows to onboard key messages using the trial and error method to recommend improvements for upcoming projects. Hence, construction companies must leverage this technology by feeding as much data as possible for every project and learning from it.

Furthermore, it is quite apparent that the results will be as good as the quality of the data fed. So, in order to utilize what this technology has to offer, the companies will have to put a thought into organizing what data needs to be collected and manage it across all products. There is a common saying in AI circles – garbage in, garbage out.

Way forward

Adopting the latest technology can be daunting. But machine learning and artificial intelligence are helping make job sites more efficient and saving money in the process. The AEC (Architectural, Engineering, and Construction) Industry, moving forward, is getting highly dependent on several technologies, and Artificial Intelligence will be amongst the most adopted due to its functionalities that offer unparalleled user experience. Artificial Intelligence and machine learning are setting a precedent to become the rule in the construction industry rather than just a tool or an exception.

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