[건설현장 패러다임의 변화] 본격적인 로봇 도입...매년 25% 성장 VIDEO: Robots Invade the Construction Site

Robots Invade the Construction Site

Boosted by advances in sensors and artificial intelligence, a new generation of machines is automating a tech-averse industry.

THERESA AREVALO WAS in high school when she first tried finishing drywall at her brother’s construction company. “It’s a fine art,” she says of mudding—applying and smoothing drywall. “Like frosting a cake, you have to give the illusion that the wall is flat.”

Canvas' robot can apply finishes to drywall.COURTESY OF CANVAS


건설현장 로봇 도입 본격화...매년 25% 성장

건식벽 페인팅 캔버스 로봇 선보여

   센서와 인공지능의 발달에 힘입어 새로운 세대의 기계가 기술 기피 산업을 자동화하고 있다.

테레사 아레발로는 고등학교 때 동생의 건설회사에서 건식벽 완성을 처음 시도했었다. "그것은 훌륭한 예술이다."라고 그녀는 진흙탕에 대해 말한다. 즉, 건식벽에 바르고 매끄럽게 하는 것이다. "케이크를 서리칠 때처럼 벽이 평평하다는 착각을 주어야 한다."

몇 십 년 전: 아레발로는 현재 숙련된 인간노동자 못지않은 예술성으로 건식벽화가 가능한 인공지능(AI)을 이용해 로봇을 만든 회사 캔버스에서 일하고 있다.

이 로봇은 최근 몇 달 동안 샌프란시스코 국제 공항의 새로운 하비 밀크 터미널과 샌프란시스코의 체이스 센터 경기장과 연결된 사무실 건물을 포함한 몇몇 건설 현장에 아레발로의 감독하에 배치되었다.

부엌 난로만한 크기의 이 4륜 로봇은 레이저 스캐너와 수직 플랫폼에 장착된 로봇 팔을 싣고 미완성 건물을 항해한다. 방에 배치되면, 이 로봇은 라이다를 사용하여 미완성된 벽을 스캔한 다음, 거의 완벽한 층의 건식벽 화합물을 적용하기 전에 표면을 매끄럽게 하는 작업을 하게 된다. 센서는 인간의 작업자에게서 멀어지게 하는 데 도움을 준다.

캔버스 로봇은 회사들이 더 짧은 시간에 더 많은 건식 작업을 하도록 도울 수 있다. 사람의 감시가 필요하지만 운영자가 전문 건식기 또는 로봇 기술자가 될 필요는 없다.

환경은 다양하고 복잡하며 변화하기 때문에 건설 현장에 로봇을 배치하는 것은 오랫동안 비현실적이었다. 그러나 지난 몇 년 동안 저가 레이저 센서, 값싼 로봇 팔과 그립, 내비게이션과 컴퓨터 비전을 위한 오픈 소스 소프트웨어 등의 발전으로 인해 더 많은 공사를 자동화하고 분석할 수 있게 되었다.

대형 건설현장 주변에는 자율 차량. 샌프란시스코 스타트업 빌드 로보틱스의 도저 같은 건설기계가 자율적으로 작동한다. 점점 더 많은 로봇 장비들이 용접, 시추, 벽돌 쌓기를 포함한 전문화된 건설 작업을 대신할 수 있다. "정말 흥미로운 일들이 일어나고 있다,"라고 슈레이어는 말한다.

via youtube

2020년 1월 발간된 IDC 보고서는 2023년까지 건설로봇 수요가 연평균 약 25% 성장할 것으로 전망했다.

황기철 콘페이퍼 에디터

Ki Chul Hwang Conpaper editor curator

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Fast-forward a few decades: Arevalo now works at Canvas, a company that’s built a robot using artificial intelligence that’s capable of drywalling with almost as much artistry as a skilled human worker.

The robot has been deployed, under Arevalo’s supervision, at several construction sites in recent months, including the new Harvey Milk Terminal at San Francisco International Airport and an office building connected to the Chase Center arena in San Francisco.


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About the size of a kitchen stove, the four-wheeled robot navigates an unfinished building carrying laser scanners and a robotic arm fitted to a vertical platform. When placed in a room, the robot scans the unfinished walls using lidar, then gets to work smoothing the surface before applying a near perfect layer of drywall compound; sensors help it steer clear of human workers.

The Canvas robot can help companies do more drywalling in less time. It requires human oversight, but its operator does not need to be an expert drywaller or roboticist.

It has long been impractical to deploy robots at construction sites, because the environment is so varied, complex, and changing. In the past few years however, advances including low-cost laser sensors, cheaper robotic arms and grippers, and open source software for navigation and computer vision have made it possible to automate and analyze more construction.

The more advanced machines marching onto construction sites will help make construction less wasteful. According to McKinsey, productivity in construction has improved less than in any other industry over the past couple of decades. The arrival of more automation may also alter demand for labor in a number of building trades.

“They love the fact that it’s so consistent, that the wall is gorgeous. But then the next question is, ‘When is it going to take my job?’”


Kevin Albert, cofounder and CEO of Canvas, previously worked at Boston Dynamics, a company famous for its lifelike walking robots, and in the manufacturing industry. He says there’s great opportunity in construction, which generates about $1.4 trillion annually and accounts for around 7 percent of US GDP but has seen relatively little use of computerization and automation. “We really see construction as mobile manufacturing,” he says. “There's this natural extension of what machines are now capable of out in the real world.”

Canvas is part of a boom in construction technology, says Alex Schreyer, director of the Building and Construction Technology Program at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. He says some of the biggest progress is being made in prefabrication of buildings, using robotic processes to construct large parts of buildings that are then assembled on-site. But increasingly, he says, robots and AI are also finding their way onto conventional work sites.


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Autonomous vehicles made by Volvo ferry materials and tools around some large sites. Technology from San Francisco startup Built Robotics lets construction machinery such as diggers and dozers operate autonomously. A growing array of robotic equipment can take over specialized construction tasks including welding, drilling, and brick-laying. “There are some really interesting things happening,” Schreyer says.

An IDC report published in January 2020 forecasts that demand for construction robots will grow about 25 percent annually through 2023.

One big opportunity in construction, Schreyer says, is using computer vision and other sensing technologies to track the movement of materials and workers around a work site. Software can automatically flag if a job is falling behind, or if something has been installed in the wrong place. “There is so much potential to do something with that using AI,” Schreyer says. “More companies are going to move into that AI space.”

Doxel, based in Redwood City, California, makes a mobile robot that scans work sites in 3- so that software can calculate how the project is progressing. A four-legged Boston Dynamics robot called Spot is being tested for the same purpose at a number of sites. Several companies sell drones for automated construction site inspection, including Propeller, vHive, ABJ Drones, and DJI.

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