Special Issue on Construction and Built Environment
Thomas Bock and Tetsuji Yoshida
The construction industry is one of the largest economicalsectors in developed countries. The economical contributionof the construction industry is comparable withthe contribution of the manufacturing industry. However,the construction industry is one of the most unfamiliar areasof R&D in the robotics community. The first ideasfor construction robots appeared in the 1970s in Japan.Due to quality problems of construction works, lack ofskilled labor, low productivity, numerous accidents andfatalities and high construction demand, the first prototypesof construction robots were developed towards theend of the 1970s. Since then more than 200 constructionrobots and service robots for buildings have been developed,but only about 10% of them have been successfullyintroduced to the construction market. The developmentof on-site robots in the 1980s peaked with the developmentof integrated automated building construction sitesin the 1990s. In the beginning of the 21st century humanoidrobots were researched and tested. In the futurewe will see robots that care for the elderly and handicappedas a further development of construction robots.
This issue gives an overview on the state of art ofrobotic technologies in construction. The introductoryarticle also relates the construction robotics developmentto the industrial robotics technology in the prefabricationsector of the 1970s, gives examples of various constructionrobotics developments of the 1980s, the integratedautomated building construction sites since the 1990s, andthe humanoid construction robotics developments and integratedindustrialization efforts of recent date. Roboticsubtechnologies such as programming, sensors, kinematics,teleoperation, navigation, human-robot interaction arepresented to the reader. During the last years much efforthas been devoted to the application of robots and roboticstechnology in construction works. Most of them are forout-door application, where the tasks are developed incomplex unstructured environments and under hazardousconditions. The construction robots introduced during thelast years have dramatically improved labor conditions,productivity and quality levels, and also have increasedthe safety conditions for operators. The nowadays constructionrobotics technology tries to take advantage ofthe last developments for control, navigation, localization,human-machine interface or sensor use. Howeverrobotics in construction is still a very challenging topic inorder to clarify many unsolved R&D issues.
The purpose of this special issue is to provide a reviewof open issues and new developments in robotics inconstruction, ranging from major construction engineeringprojects to residential building construction:
- • Robotics for building construction.
- • Robotics for civil engineering: roads, bridges, earthmoving, etc.
- • Inspection, maintenance and infrastructures robots.
- • Navigation, mapping and localization of robots inconstruction environments.
- • Technology components for construction robots: 3Dsensors, end-effectors, HMI, control strategies, cooperation,safety, etc.