Skip to Content
Uncategorized

Building Bots

Construction sites go wireless.

Keeping accurate tabs on every element of a construction project, from piles of earth to stacks of steel beams, is complicated and expensive. To ease the burden on builders, engineers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology are developing information networks that could automate the process.

In one experiment, a construction site is rigged with a Global Positioning System antenna, a computer equipped with a wireless Ethernet connection and a laser-based measuring device. The laser scanner analyzes the size of an object-say a mound of excavated dirt; measurements are sent via wireless Ethernet to databases and file servers that can be accessed by contractors and engineers both on and off the site. Software puts the data into an intelligible form-say, a 3-D model for monitoring job status-and can provide precise measurements for billing purposes. “Right now, many estimates for jobs like ground removal are taken only by how many trucks were used to haul the stuff away,” says Geraldine S. Cheok, a research structural engineer at NIST. “This will make the numbers much more exact.”

Ultimately, the NIST system would go beyond measuring dirt piles. Researchers plan to use radio frequency identification tags to track every pipe, beam and hammer that enters or leaves a site. While the researchers expect to have the technology ready for field use by 2006, the building industry is notoriously slow in adopting new techniques, says Ken Eickmann, director of the Austin, TX-based Construction Industry Institute, a research organization that looks for better construction practices. “But if it proves to be a cost saver,” he says, “you will see it in practice.”

Deep Dive

Uncategorized

Our best illustrations of 2022

Our artists’ thought-provoking, playful creations bring our stories to life, often saying more with an image than words ever could.

How CRISPR is making farmed animals bigger, stronger, and healthier

These gene-edited fish, pigs, and other animals could soon be on the menu.

The Download: the Saudi sci-fi megacity, and sleeping babies’ brains

This is today’s edition of The Download, our weekday newsletter that provides a daily dose of what’s going on in the world of technology. These exclusive satellite images show Saudi Arabia’s sci-fi megacity is well underway In early 2021, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia announced The Line: a “civilizational revolution” that would house up…

10 Breakthrough Technologies 2023

Every year, we pick the 10 technologies that matter the most right now. We look for advances that will have a big impact on our lives and break down why they matter.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.