Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat
Robotics in Tall Building Construction
Project Start: October, 2018
Anticipated Project Completion: October 2020
Funding Sponsor: Schindler

Principal Investigators:
Dario Trabucco, CTBUH; Antony Wood, CTBUH

CTBUH has received funding from Schindler to carry out a two-year research project, “Robotics in Tall Building Construction.” This research 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. Following confirmation of the research results, this information will be published and widely disseminated in the form of a CTBUH Research Report, summarizing information on the automated construction technologies that could be introduced in the years to come.

Funding Sponsor
Ceiling-mounted robots used for manufacturing illustrate the potential of robotic building construction. © Güdel

Project Milestones
2018, October: Steering Committee First Meeting
2018, October: Research Project Launches

The automotive industry is likely the field that has experienced the most significant changes in the transition from a human workforce to a robotic workforce. Robots have been highly effective and advantageous at performing tasks that are repetitive (e.g., bolting), require high levels of precision (e.g., welding), or are dangerous for the health of workers (e.g., painting). While the human workforce in this sector has reduced significantly, new jobs have been created in the design, building and operation of such robots.

Extensive developments in the modernization of the construction industry have been realized over the past 30-plus years, with theoretical studies and on-site applications of various machines and robots ranging in complexity and scale: from small single-task machines to large computerized factories. The vast majority of these developments have occurred in Japan, where automation and robots have already been used in the construction of buildings across different heights, typologies, and complexities.

This proposed research will investigate, together with the diverse network of CTBUH’s international experts (developers, designers, construction companies, quality surveyors, etc.), the future of this promising field, identifying the reasons why such technologies have not been able to significantly evolve beyond certain isolated examples and why they have not been “demanded” by the construction industry in the most advanced tall building markets.

Research questions:

  • What are the most technologically advanced construction techniques available for tall buildings? What is their level of development? Have these techniques advanced to a level where they are able to be used or tested on-site?
  • What are the benefits in terms of cost, speed, safety, and labor by using robots in tall buildings?
  • What is the state-of-the-art now, and in the future, for this field?
  • How can the construction of tall buildings benefit from the adoption of robotics? Can other technologies available now, such as BIM or Building Monitoring Systems, create a more favorable environment for the adoption of robotic construction?
Contact Information
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