February 9, 2021
Emerging robotics technology may lead to better buildings in less time
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Emerging robotics technology may soon help construction companies and contractors create buildings in less time at higher quality and at lower costs.
Purdue University innovators developed and are testing a novel construction robotic system that uses an innovative mechanical design with advances in computer vision sensing technology to work in a construction setting.
“Our work helps to address workforce shortages in the construction industry by automating key construction operations,” said Jiansong Zhang, an assistant professor of construction management technology in the Purdue Polytechnic Institute. “On a construction site, there are many unknown factors that a construction robot must be able to account for effectively. This requires much more advanced sensing and reasoning technologies than those commonly used in a manufacturing environment.”
The Purdue team’s custom end effector design allows for material to be both placed and fastened in the same operation using the same arm, limiting the amount of equipment that is required to complete a given task.
Computer vision algorithms developed for the project allow the robotic system to sense building elements and match them to building information modeling (BIM) data in a variety of environments, and keep track of obstacles or safety hazards in the system’s operational context.
“By basing the sensing for our robotic arm around computer vision technology, rather than more limited-scope and expensive sensing systems, we have the capability to complete many sensing tasks with a single affordable sensor,” Zhang said. “This allows us to implement a more robust and versatile system at a lower cost.”
The technology was developed with support from the National Science Foundation. Undergraduate researchers in Zhang’s Automation and Intelligent Construction (AutoIC) Lab helped create this robotic technology.
This work will be featured at OTC’s 2021 Technology Showcase: The State of Innovation. The annual showcase, being held virtually this year Feb. 10-11, will feature novel innovations from inventors at Purdue and across the state of Indiana. More information is available by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
The innovators are looking for partners to continue developing and commercializing their technology. For more information on licensing and other opportunities, contact Matt Halladay of OTC at email@example.com and mention track code 2018-ZHAN-68094.
About Purdue Research Foundation Office of Technology Commercialization
The Purdue Research Foundation Office of Technology Commercialization operates one of the most comprehensive technology transfer programs among leading research universities in the U.S. Services provided by this office support the economic development initiatives of Purdue University and benefit the university's academic activities through commercializing, licensing and protecting Purdue intellectual property. The office is located in the Convergence Center for Innovation and Collaboration in Discovery Park District, adjacent to the Purdue campus. In fiscal year 2020, the office reported 148 deals finalized with 225 technologies signed, 408 disclosures received and 180 issued U.S. patents. The office is managed by the Purdue Research Foundation, which received the 2019 Innovation and Economic Prosperity Universities Award for Place from the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities. In 2020, IPWatchdog Institute ranked Purdue third nationally in startup creation and in the top 20 for patents. The Purdue Research Foundation is a private, nonprofit foundation created to advance the mission of Purdue University. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
About Purdue University
Purdue University is a top public research institution developing practical solutions to today’s toughest challenges. Ranked the No. 5 Most Innovative University in the United States by U.S. News & World Report, Purdue delivers world-changing research and out-of-this-world discovery. Committed to hands-on and online, real-world learning, Purdue offers a transformative education to all. Committed to affordability and accessibility, Purdue has frozen tuition and most fees at 2012-13 levels, enabling more students than ever to graduate debt-free. See how Purdue never stops in the persistent pursuit of the next giant leap at purdue.edu.