Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat
Robotics Research Project Holds First Meeting
The committee behind Robotics in Tall Building Construction met to discuss the mission, parameters, and goals for the upcoming research project.
Friday, 19 October 2018
DUBAI – The CTBUH Robotics in Tall Building Construction research project steering committee held its initial kickoff meeting, just ahead of the 2018 Middle East Conference. The 24-month project, kindly funded by Schindler, will explore the new and promising realm of tall building robotics, identifying areas where the quality and speed of building construction could be enhanced through the use of such technologies, while maintaining the highest degree of on-site safety.

CTBUH Research Manager Dario Trabucco introduced the mission and parameters of the project, noting that the construction site is still fairly conservative in terms of its technological investment relative to automobile and aeronautics manufacturing – much physical labor is still involved. Part of the research will be to examine specifically why robotics have not been used very much to date in construction. Trabucco  also indicated the relative importance of research in robotics to the industry, as demonstrated in CTBUH’s Roadmap on the Future Research Needs of Tall Buildings, published in 2014. The industry survey determined that research into robotic construction would be “very important” but is also “very immature” at this stage.

A general discussion about the state of the art in construction robotics ensued, with Christian Schulz, Schindler’s Head of Operations, noting that fully introducing robots into tall building construction would be a revolution akin to the effect of the automobile’s introduction to the world of the horse and carriage – a new infrastructure, and potentially new types of wall systems, would have to be introduced.

It quickly developed that the initial research would be a widely cast net at first, with focus then becoming more precise. CTBUH CEO Antony Wood responded that the research project needs to be undertaken at three scales: to capture “the now” – current practices of robotic construction, mostly in low-rise buildings, but also in non-building areas such as ship and aircraft assembly; to identify obvious areas that can be automated, both on- and off-site; and to consider theoretical long-range applications, such as a completely automated construction site.”

Christian Studer, Schindler’s Head of New Technologies, represented Schindler’s interest in the research project, first by demonstrating its current state of development on the RISE (Robotic Installation System for Elevators). RISE is a self-climbing robot that reconciles the inputs from digital building models with the built reality of the concrete elevator shaft, then climbs floor-to-floor, drilling holes and placing anchor bolts for the elevator running rails, which are then installed by human labor.

The group then viewed a presentation by Dr. Thomas Bock, Chair, Building Realization & Robotics, Technical University of Munich, who has consulted on and delivered robotic construction projects around the world for the past three decades. Many in the room were only somewhat aware of many of the projects he showed, which further illustrated the large scope of the research ahead of the team.

The next steps for the group will be to reflect and refine more clearly the roles of the committee and the direction of the research, and to expand the reach of the committee to include more expertise among individuals, companies and related institutions.

Surname First Name Company Title Location
Wood Antony CTBUH Chief Executive Officer Chicago, USA
Trabucco Dario CTBUH Research Manager Venice, Italy
Du Peng CTBUH China Office Director & Academic Coordinator Chicago, USA
Safarik Daniel CTBUH Editor Chicago, USA
Dobler Michael Schindler Senior Vice President, Global KAM & Large Projects Lucerne, Switzerland
Schulz Christian Schindler Head of Operations, Member of the Group Executive Committee Lucerne, Switzerland
Studer Christian Schindler Head of New Technologies Lucerne, Switzerland
Kleiss Michael Clemson University Associate Professor of Architecture Clemson, USA
Odeh Ibrahim Columbia University Founding Director, Global Leaders in Construction Management New York City, USA
Singh Gurjit Dubai World Trade Center Senior Vice President - Real Estate Dubai, UAE
Standard Ilkay C. GenX Design & Technology Consulting Innovation Manager New York City, USA
Piper Ben Killa Architectural Design Partner & Design Principal Dubai, UAE
Bakker Ron PLP Architecture Founding Partner London, UK
Mills Shonn Ramboll Group Global High Rise Director Copenhagen, Denmark
Rinomato Ernie Residential Construction Council of Ontario Board of Directors Toronto, Canada
Bock Thomas Technical University of Munich Chair, Building Realization & Robotics Munich, Germany
Walker Evan Turner International LLC Pre-Construction Manager Mumbai, India
Mendis Priyan University of Melbourne Professor of Civil Engineering, Director of ARC Center for Prefab Housing Melbourne, Australia
McCabe Brenda University of Toronto Professor Toronto, Canada