Skip to Content
Artificial intelligence

AI and drones are being used to control construction projects

March 15, 2018

Californian company Skycatch is building drones that will use machine learning to map sites, plan work, and even guide autonomous construction vehicles on building sites.

Clear for takeoff: According to New Scientist, over 5,000 Japanese building sites have used Skycatch drones over the past three years to map construction sites. It takes the drones 15 minutes to scan a site and make a map of its terrain—a process that takes a team of humans several days.

A flying foreman: The drones use AI that has been trained on data like labeled aerial YouTube footage depicting different kinds of industrial equipment. That enables them to study footage of a building site as they fly overhead, determine where vehicles are, and suggest how they should be moved.

Removing humans: By combining the data from the drones’ birds-eye view with technology onboard self-driving construction vehicles, Skycatch says, it will eventually gather enough information to independently guide the vehicles. As Skycatch’s head of AI and strategy, Angela Sy, told New Scientist, “the machines will be able to act on their own, rather than just following a set of rules.”

Want to stay up to date on the future of work? Sign up for our newest newsletter, Clocking In!

Deep Dive

Artificial intelligence

Sam Altman says helpful agents are poised to become AI’s killer function

Open AI’s CEO says we won’t need new hardware or lots more training data to get there.

Is robotics about to have its own ChatGPT moment?

Researchers are using generative AI and other techniques to teach robots new skills—including tasks they could perform in homes.

What’s next for generative video

OpenAI's Sora has raised the bar for AI moviemaking. Here are four things to bear in mind as we wrap our heads around what's coming.

An AI startup made a hyperrealistic deepfake of me that’s so good it’s scary

Synthesia's new technology is impressive but raises big questions about a world where we increasingly can’t tell what’s real.

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.