February 21, 2023 | Warren Shoulberg
The industry has talked about robots replacing humans in certain jobs but it’s starting to happen for real in the construction business, The Washington Post reports.
“Many [construction] jobs … that exist today are now going to be alongside robots. Construction robots are a great example of how robotic technology is going to touch people’s lives.”
This prophetic quote is from Matthew Johnson-Roberson, the director of the robotics institute at Carnegie Mellon University, in a new Washington Post story on the coming of robotic devices to replace some human roles in the construction industry.
“This is not artificial general intelligence,” he said. “This is not like we can do everything, or it acts like a human. It really is new pieces of heavy equipment that now have much better sensors and can do things that humans would have had to do” using multiple cumbersome steps.
The Post article does not quote any hard numbers on jobs being taken by robots but cites a key finding that one of the big factors driving this trend is that fewer people want to work in the construction trades. “The only way we’re going to meet the world’s demand for housing and infrastructure is if we build robots to take away those jobs because people are not filling those jobs,” the story quotes Tessa Lau, the chief executive of Dusty Robotics, a firm that makes some of these robotic devices. Her company rents out the equipment on a subscription plan and while it’s not cheap – averaging $240,000 a year – Dusty Robotics has grown to a $250 million valuation in just a few years.
Much of this advanced machine technology is being used in big construction jobs like roads and bridges rather than in home and residential buildings which require more specialized skills. But the workforce is changing for everyone in the construction field.
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