ITcon Vol. 24, pg. 527-539,

Robots and AR: towards a platform economy for construction

published:December 2019
editor(s):Dermott McMeel & Vicente A. Gonzalez
authors:Dermott McMeel
School of Architecture and Planning, Faculty of Creative Arts and Industries
summary:Platform economies like Uber and AirBnB have emerged quickly to dominate and radically reconfiguring social, geographic and organisational structures of existing economic systems; putting markets into a state of contingency and flux. What is a platform economy for construction? This paper reports on research investigating the implementation and combination of new technology, made possible by through a ‘platform’ approach to disrupt design and making processes and offer insight into potential futures. This project explores automated robotic construction, automatic recognition of building components and Augmented Reality overlay of additional data. The paper reviews existing literature to explore similarities and differences between construction and other sectors being disrupted by platforms. The research methodology develops a digital software platform to investigate how much of the design, fabrication and assembly of a ‘digital igloo’ can be automated. The igloo itself is a simple structural form intended to showcase composite panels. Results reveal construction is organizationally strikingly similar to sectors currently being disrupted. They also show the surprising extent to which design, fabrication and assembly can be contained within a digital platform. The biggest challenge was perhaps to do with tolerance, specifically when and where there is a focus on precision. Conclusions suggest the complexity of construction is likely to prevent an immediate and complete shift to a platform economy. It is more likely in the short term that contained and discrete aspects of construction, such as transport or equipment, might be suited to adoption.
keywords:Hololens, Augmented Reality, Digital Fabrication, Design, Data, Visualization
full text: (PDF file, 0.574 MB)
citation:McMeel D (2019). Robots and AR: towards a platform economy for construction, ITcon Vol. 24, Special issue Virtual, Augmented and Mixed: New Realities in Construction, pg. 527-539,