The Rise of Robotics and AI in Construction: Transforming Traditional Practices

By Mr. Ashutosh Rohit Katyal

One of the world’s oldest and largest, the construction industry, is transforming with advanced technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Robotics. This shift is tackling longstanding challenges and driving growth and efficiency. A report by Knight Frank India and the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) indicates that India’s construction sector is the second-largest employment generator, employing around 71 million people as of 2023.

The Impact of AI on the Construction Industry

The adoption of AI in construction is set to alter various facets of the industry. The White Paper on ‘Artificial Intelligence: The Future of Smart Construction,’ pointed at AI’s potential to reshape the sector significantly. Furthermore, as per the white paper released at the World of Concrete India 2023 exhibition in Mumbai, reported that construction industry which contributes 13% to the global GDP, is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 11%, increasing from $8.2 trillion to $17 trillion by 2029. This growth is influenced by government initiatives, lower interest rates in developed economies, demand for renewable energy, public-private partnerships, new age technology, and higher disposable incomes.

AI’s integration into construction processes can enhance productivity by up to 1.5% annually. It plays a crucial role across all stages of construction projects, from design and financing to construction, operations, and business model innovations. For instance, Building Information Modelling (BIM), an advanced 3D modeling technology, benefits immensely from AI. AI enables the instant generation of optimal building design alternatives, reducing decision-making cycles and facilitating risk mitigation, off-site construction support, and effective project planning. In the post-construction phase, AI can detect potential issues and provide solutions to prevent their occurrence, ensuring long-term efficiency and safety.

Robotics in Construction

The deployment of robotics in construction is rapidly gaining momentum, driven by the industry’s need for faster and more efficient construction processes. The Indian government is expected to invest over $13 billion in robotics to enhance construction efficiency. Various types of robots, such as logistics robots, autonomous drones, and building automation systems, are being employed to meet the increasing demand for rapid construction.

Robots offer several advantages, including the ability to work in hazardous environments, perform repetitive tasks with high precision, and operate continuously without fatigue. These capabilities are particularly valuable in large-scale projects where consistency and speed are critical. For example, autonomous drones are used for site surveys and inspections, providing real-time data and reducing the need for manual labor. Similarly, logistics robots streamline the movement of materials on construction sites, improving overall workflow and productivity.

Always-On and Connected Construction

An essential component of modern construction is the Internet of Things (IoT), which enables real-time monitoring and management of critical resources. IoT sensors are deployed to monitor machinery, track progress, and ensure safety on construction sites. This connectivity facilitates proactive maintenance, reduces downtime, and enhances overall site efficiency.

In smart city projects, IoT plays a pivotal role in managing urban resources such as electric systems, water, and sewage. By integrating IoT with AI and robotics, construction companies can create more resilient and efficient infrastructures, aligning with government initiatives like Housing for All and Smart City Projects. These initiatives are driving urban infrastructure development and addressing the surge in demand for residential housing due to increased urbanization and rising household incomes.

Addressing Challenges with Digital Innovations

Despite the promising advancements, the construction industry faces challenges such as low productivity and safety concerns. Digital innovations like modular manufacturing and drones offer solutions to these issues. Modular manufacturing allows for the prefabrication of building components in controlled environments, reducing on-site construction time and improving quality control. Drones, on the other hand, enhance site surveillance, ensuring compliance with safety regulations and providing real-time data for better decision-making.

The rapid urbanization and significant investments in the construction sector position India to become one of the three largest construction markets in the world by 2025. Currently, only 20% of the infrastructure needed by 2050 exists, highlighting a substantial opportunity for the industry to bridge this gap in the coming decades.

The integration of robotics and AI in construction is bringing about a big change in the industry. AI can improve productivity, while robotics enhances efficiency and safety. With government support and investments, the construction sector is positioned for significant growth. As AI and robotics become more common in construction, we can expect a more connected, efficient, and innovative future for building projects, ensuring sustainable infrastructure for years to come.


(The author is Mr. Ashutosh Rohit Katyal, CTO, Capacit’e Infra Today, and the views expressed in this article are his own)