Robots to build WA University Building

Friday 20 May 2022

In conjunction with Aurecon and the University of Technology Sydney (UTS), robots are being trialled on a Western Australian construction site in a world-first project at Murdoch University. The robots have been designed by UTS researchers to deliver cumbersome screw fixings. This task can cause fatigue and injury in workers given the repetitive and labour-intensive nature of this work, especially on Mass Engineered Timber (MET) construction projects.

The catalyst for the trial is the construction of Building 360 at Murdoch’s South Street campus – a technology-rich, MET building which will accommodate up to 60% of the university’s teaching requirements. Building 360 will be the largest MET building in Western Australia and a demonstration of Murdoch’s commitment to sustainability, aiming for a 6 Star Green Star rating once complete.

Murdoch University’s Vice Chancellor Professor Andrew Deeks says Building 360 would transform the student and staff experience through offering new, digitally enabled teaching and learning spaces in an environmentally friendly design. “The concept was developed to trial robots installing screw fixings – an important, but labour-intensive task, that’s essential on MET construction sites.”

Aurecon’s Managing Director, Built Environment Australia, Tim Spies, says, “The long-term objective is to prove that the modular nature of timber construction will benefit from the automation of some on-site construction activities, helping to increase productivity, reduce cost, improve workers' OH&S, and advance innovation in the construction industry.”

UTS Robotics Institute and the project leader, Dikai Liu says intelligent robots are changing construction. “Construction sites are varied, complex and changing – and that can be a real challenge for a robot to navigate and conduct operations such as drilling a screw into the right position,” Professor Liu says.

“What we have been able to design is an intelligent robot that can focus on an important task even amidst this disruptive environment.” There are around 200,000 to 300,000 screw fixings on the Building 360 construction site and the robots was trialled installing approximately 50 to 100 fixings as part of the proof of concept.

Photo: UTS research engineer Khoa Le watches as the robot installs a screw fixing. Trevor Collens

Source: architectureanddesign, AFR

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