Now, robots will help construct buildings

Japan's robot technology continues to attract the world's attention

GERMANY-MOBILE-TELECOMMUNICATIONS-5G Robot "Pepper" welcomes guests arriving for the opening of the Vodafone 5G Lab in Duesseldorf, western Germany | AFP

Many companies in Japan are concerned over the large exodus of skilled workers, and the pressing issue for the construction industry is how to find labour while raising productivity.

Shimizu Corporation, a Japanese construction company, invited local and foreign media to a press tour at its robot laboratory in Tokyo, where they showed several robots designed for construction sites that can weld, bolt and carry to improve working productivity and safety of workers.

"Using robots for transportation is evolving in various industries, not only in the construction industry. We also incorporate it into the construction site, but with our robots there is now no need to extend various wires, attach Wi-Fi to the site, or mark the destination with tape. Our robots can understand surroundings by themselves and decide route they must take and the work they have to do," said Masahiro Indo, an official from Shimizu.

Shimizu Corporation commenced development of Shimizu Smart Site, a next-generation production system in which robots and humans will collaborate to move construction projects forward.

Robots undergoing autonomous control testing at robot laboratory Robo-Carrier which links with temporary elevator to transport supplies to designated spot entirely unnamed when the operator selects preferred materials and enters the destination in on a tablet. The Robo-Welder has a robotic arm that uses laser shape measurements to determine contours of a groove, or channel, on steel column in order to be welded and the Robo-Buddy, a multipurpose robot that handles construction work for ceilings and floors. Each one is primary structural element of the Shimizu Smart Site. An operator uses tablet to send instruction to enable robots carry out autonomously.

"We want to take the policy of open innovation so that we develop and use robots in our company and at the same time we want other industries and countries to benefit from these robots and technology," said Indo.

These robots will be deployed into a real high-rise building site in Osaka this fall. In the next fiscal year, robots will work at several large construction sites in Tokyo.

The improvement of Japan's robot technology continues to attract the world's attention and contributes to improvement of various future work scenes.