The shrinking, aging construction workforce has contractors and manufacturers exploring alternatives to the traditional labor-intensive and site-dependent production system. Productivity will decrease as the number of skilled workers declines. A heavy reliance on workers also contributes to high accident rates. A major percentage of industrial accidents occur on construction sites.
To combat a shrinking labor pool and reduce the risk to jobsite labor, manufacturers are turning to "smart" construction technologies to drive what is being termed the Fourth Industrial Revolution. At the forefront of the technologies that are merging to create the Fourth Industrial Revolution are artificial intelligence (AI), automation, virtual reality (VR), the Internet of Things (IoT) and connected machine communications.
Construction equipment manufacturers have been heavily investing in autonomous technology that promises to alleviate the impact of the skilled labor shortage. One such company is Doosan Infracore. On November 20, the company revealed its autonomous construction site solution, Concept-X, with several prototype machines including a drone, wheel loader, excavator and articulated dump truck working together autonomously at the company’s proving grounds.
Concept-X is a comprehensive control solution that can be used to survey work site topography via 3D drone scanning, establish operational plans based on the topographical data and operate construction equipment such as excavators and wheel loaders without human intervention. It realizes the construction site of the future by having difficult construction work performed solely by equipment, leaving human personnel free to concentrate on more sophisticated analysis and management tasks.Unmanned construction equipment is operated by a control center, the X-Center.
Although certain individual unmanned technologies have already been introduced in the field of construction machinery, Doosan Infracore has introduced unmanned automation technologies to the entire construction site operation process – ranging from surveying to the operations of construction equipment such as excavators and wheel loaders.
Concept-X comprises a wide range of cutting-edge Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies such as:
- image recognition
- cognitive/control technologies
- autonomous driving technologies
- 5G remote control
- 3D drone surveys
- accurate workload estimation and assignment
- and failure prediction technologies
Doosan Infracore expects to fully commercialize Concept-X by 2025, but individual technologies will be rolled out as they become available.
How Concept-X works
The whole process starts with construction site surveying. A drone scans the jobsite and transmits topographical information to the X-Center to produce 3D data. The X-Center analyzes the jobsite through this 3D terrain data and establishes the optimal operational plan by calculating the equipment availability. Unmanned construction equipment starts its operation according to the X-Center plan. Work progress and equipment status are monitored in real time.
Sensors mounted on the machines create situational awareness that prevents accidents. Each machine monitors its surrounding situation in real time. In case of an emergency, the X-Center can halt the operation.
During the demonstration, Doosan Infracore introduced technology:
- designed to create three-dimensional work site maps with drone-surveyed data;
- enabling construction equipment such as excavators and wheel loaders to perform optimized unmanned operations according to any site situation;
- that makes real-time monitoring of work progress possible through the X-Center’s comprehensive control solution.
Doosan Infracore asserts that the solution will boost productivity and economic feasibility significantly by reducing the time and costs required for construction equipment operations, while continuing to make work sites safer.
A Stepped Approach
Pending its commercialization, Doosan Infracore will introduce each of the above-mentioned technologies – including drone surveying, cutting-edge data analysis and unmanned construction equipment operations and control - individually as soon as they have been fully verified.
“Concept X is not just an unmanned technology: Rather, it integrates multiple state of the art technologies that can respond immediately to all and any of the changes that may arise at construction sites simultaneously,” declared Dongyoun Sohn, Doosan Infracore President and CEO. "It will become a human-centered technology that not only brings about remarkable improvements in economics but also creates more jobs in high-tech industries.”
In addition to its independent technology development, Doosan Infracore has pursued various forms of open innovation including collaboration with other companies and schools, as well as investment in startups. It collaborated with many technology leaders to make its Concept-X vision and reality. A few of the major research partners include Bosch, ASI, LG U+, PoteNit, Geont, UVify, Clobot and Bigtree.
Doosan Infracore has also engaged in industry-academic cooperation with Seoul National University, Yonsei University and Hanyang University to develop new technologies related to AI-based construction equipment operations, drone 3D surveying and operational data analysis.
In 2018, Doosan Infracore, in partnership with LG U+, introduced 5G-based remote control technology.