AI Transforming The Construction Industry
In the technological arena, artificial intelligence and drones are a match. The combination of AI’s real-time machine learning technology with unmanned drone exploratory functionalities gives ground-level operators a human-like eye-in-the-sky. Drones play an important problem-solving role in a variety of sectors more than ever before — including defense, agriculture, relief from natural disasters, security, and construction.
Drones have become important to everyone, from firefighters to farmers, with their ability to increase efficiency and improve safety. In fact, smart UAVs are so popular that they are now being used around the world on more than 400,000 job sites. Until recently, however, drones could only display what was captured by their cameras. Now, they can perceive their surroundings which allows them to map areas, track objects, and provide real-time analytical feedback.
As drone technology is increasingly developing and spreading, the availability of high-resolution images used for various tasks such as maintenance, surveying, mapping, and monitoring is steadily increasing. Many established software companies are on the market delivering intelligent data analysis strategies to make unstructured drone data “actionable” and gain meaningful insights without time-consuming manual analytics.
To uncover and decipher hidden patterns, Pix4D has added specific machine learning features to robust algorithms that help patients achieve a more accurate diagnosis and targeted treatments. In an automated mission, Skycatch’s system can use deep learning models to identify and track assets and material deliveries across an active building site.
Live tracking like this can anticipate delays and learn, over time, how to prevent them from saving a lot of money from the construction companies. Westpac Group based in Australia offers Shark Spotter, a system that uses drones equipped with object recognition to detect shark signs in the water. The team created the algorithm based on a sophisticated deep-learning paradigm that serves as the backbone for the real-time system for shark detection and recognition.
Further use and development of these powerful smart data processing tools will help significantly reduce the processing time of big data, which today is a huge challenge. Data analytics software is being deployed in all relevant industrial sectors within a variety of drone applications. Ironically, in some of the more mature industries, more software developers are working than in others. Insurance, agriculture, real estate, and transportation are all sectors that seek and gain access to analytical software more and more.
Although AI-powered drones have certainly been a breakthrough, they can inflict damage on a large scale. Smaller drones, for example, might raise concerns about privacy. Although science and technology can inflict a lot of possibilities, depending on the purpose, they are used to serve, and they can be a boon or curse.
AI Has Potential But Is Not Yet A Reality In Construction Tech:
It’s no secret that technology adoption in Construction lags behind other industries. Even though US Construction spending totaled more than $1.3 trillion in 2018, the industry consistently fails to adopt new technology. Why? Margins are razor-thin, workers are busier than ever, and an aging, technology-adverse workforce is in control.
The industry has to adapt. Construction has a massive labor and productivity problem on the job site. Millennials and Gen-Z are not interested in manual labor and are instead drawn to professional jobs or less labor-heavy sectors. The lack of technology adoption also makes the industry unattractive to younger generations. At the same time, productivity (measured as output per worker) for the construction sector has remained flat while other industries, such as manufacturing, have increased its productivity significantly over the past few years.
These problems sound like the perfect use cases for Artificial Intelligence. As seed-stage investors in Construction Tech startups, my colleagues and I get a unique first look at the technology innovation happening to solve these problems (and more) in the industry.
Many startups are indeed claiming to use Artificial Intelligence — so many that it seems to be an unwritten rule that every startup pitch deck must now mention Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, or other related buzz-words.
But Artificial Intelligence is not new and has been heavily researched for decades. In 1950, Alan Turing wrote a now-famous paper describing what has since been named The Turing Test — still the standard today to judge if a machine can exhibit human-like thought. Yet in the 69 years since Turing published his paper, no computer has been able to pass the Turing Test. So why has AI now become the latest buzz-word in Construction Tech? Exponential growth in computational power coupled with the ability to cost-effectively store the estimated 2.5 quintillion bytes of data created every day has brought computing to a point where algorithms can be effectively developed to deliver accurate results.
“Increased investment dollars can go a long way in attracting more innovative talent to the market and allow startups to scale faster so that they can provide value on larger construction projects”
The unfortunate reality, however, is that while we have been able to harness increased computing and storage power to make undeniably revolutionary technology, the field of computing has made relatively little progress towards the original vision of Artificial Intelligence.
Despite this, there are innovative startups that are using today’s AI to help the Construction industry keep up with the demand for higher outputs and reduced cost as well as solve other difficult challenges. One significant problem these startups face is a lack of data.
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