Last edited 10 Feb 2023

Artificial intelligence in the construction industry



[edit] Introduction

Humans and animals display varying levels of natural intelligence. Thanks to integrated software programmes, machines can be enabled to perform some tasks intelligently, thinking and working in a similar way to natural intelligence. This ability of machines to act in this way is called artificial intelligence (AI) or machine intelligence.

A branch of computer science, AI is a machine's ability to imitate intelligent behaviour and learn from its operational history or experience. Typical examples of AI include speech and facial recognition, learning, predicting and problem solving. Artificial intelligence will also provide the analytical power behind self-driving vehicles navigating to their destination with human passengers while avoiding accidents.

[edit] Learning with AI

As a key element of AI, machines can learn, draw conclusions and act independently of humans if they have sufficient information about what is going on in their particular area of activity. The spaceship computer HAL in Stanley Kubrick's '2001 A Space Odyssey' displayed a particularly malevolent form of AI, thinking and acting against the interests of its human programmers.

AI allows a machine to learn and identify patterns and trends from gigantic quantities of real-world data (big data) without human supervision. Computers are now better than humans at playing chess - and can teach themselves how to play - and can also, for example, spot the danger signs that humans might miss on cancer scans.

Google's DeepMind research project into AI aims to develop programmes; "...that can learn to solve any complex problem without needing to be taught how". An unbeatable chess-playing computer is a typical example. The firm claimed that if the project is successful, it will be of a huge benefit, tackling some of the world's most pressing challenges, from climate change to improved healthcare.

[edit] Examples of AI in the construction industry

Using AI, the effects of billion-pound infrastructure will be predictable before planning and design, making infrastructure delivery more effective and economical. AI-empowered autonomous equipment can navigate within its surroundings without human assistance. This type of equipment can survey a proposed construction site, and create 3D maps and plans from the information it has gathered.

AI can advise engineers on the best methods to use on projects. For a super-tall building, AI systems could indicate the most optimal and economic structure.

One of the most groundbreaking applications to have come into the building industry in the past few years is Building Information Modelling (BIM). This allows the creation of a virtual model holding information that may encompass all aspects of the construction project across the building's lifecycle. Architects, engineers and others who have access to the BIM model can amend, update and consider the effect of various changes to the project under a wide range of parameters, including cost, programme, performance, buildability or clash detection. When AI processes are merged into BIM, the result will be the creation of an all-encompassing tool that gives full and intelligent control and prediction of planning, design and construction.

[edit] ChatGPT

In 2023, ChatGPT, created by OpenAI, was asked to write an article about the impacts of AI on the construction industry, it wrote this:

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has revolutionized the construction industry, with its impact felt in various areas of the field. From automating tasks to improving project management and reducing the cost of construction, AI has proven to be a game-changer for the industry.

One of the primary ways AI has impacted the construction industry is through automation. Tasks such as material handling, earth-moving operations, and other manual labor can now be carried out more efficiently with the help of AI-powered machines and robots. This not only speeds up the construction process but also increases safety, as machines can perform dangerous tasks that were once performed by human workers.

Another major impact of AI in the construction industry is in project management. AI can help manage construction projects by providing real-time data and insights into the progress of a project, helping to identify any potential issues before they become major problems. This can significantly improve the accuracy of project schedules and budgets, resulting in more efficient and effective construction processes.

In addition to automation and project management, AI has also proven to be useful in reducing the cost of construction. By optimizing resource allocation, reducing waste, and streamlining construction processes, AI has the potential to save construction companies significant amounts of money. This is particularly true for large-scale projects where even small cost savings can have a major impact on the overall budget.

One of the most promising areas of AI in the construction industry is in the use of BIM (Building Information Modeling). BIM is a digital representation of a building's physical and functional characteristics, and it can be used to simulate various aspects of construction, from design to construction and maintenance. With AI, BIM can be used to automate many construction processes, such as material selection, project scheduling, and cost estimating, saving time and money while improving accuracy and efficiency.

In conclusion, AI has had a profound impact on the construction industry, improving productivity, reducing costs, and increasing safety. As technology continues to evolve, it is likely that the impact of AI will only continue to grow, and the construction industry will continue to reap the benefits. Companies that adopt AI technology will be well positioned to stay ahead of the competition, and those that do not risk being left behind.

[edit] Related articles on Designing for Buildings


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It seems like AI is one of those watershed moments, like the creation of the internet, that will make some functions and business models redundant. However, AI will never innovate, it will only re-hash existing knowledge.

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