Shimizu Corporation of Japan is conducting trials for autonomously controlled construction robots inside the Robot Laboratory at Shimizu’s Institute of Technology in Etchujima, Tokyo.
Developed by Shimizu, the robots play various roles, including conveying materials horizontally, welding steel columns or installing ceiling boards.
The robots will be deployed to a real high-rise building site in Osaka in 2018 and at several large construction sites in Tokyo in 2019.
In 2016, Shimizu commenced development of the Shimz Smart Site, a next-generation production system in which robots and humans will collaborate to take construction projects forward.
Robots undergoing autonomous control testing at the robot laboratory include Robo-Carrier, which conveys materials horizontally; Robo-Welder, which welds steel columns; and Robo-Buddy, a multipurpose robot that handles construction work for ceilings and floors.
An operator uses a tablet to send instructions, which the robots carry out autonomously.
At the laboratory, the company is verifying the ability of the robots to autonomously respond to various work instructions, and adjusting the programming governing their operation accordingly.
The Robo-Carrier links with a temporary elevator to transport the supplies to the designated spot entirely unmanned, after receiving instructions from the operator.
On the way, the robot reroutes on its own to avoid obstacles. A collision prevention feature will halt the robot if a person comes near. It uses lasers to obtain real-time spatial data to maintain an awareness of its position.
The Robo-Welder has an arm that uses laser shape measurement to ascertain the contours of a groove, or channel, on a steel column to be welded. The robotic arm, with movement along six axes, performs the welding.
The Robo-Buddy has two robotic arms with freedom of movement along six axes. After the sensors recognise the position of the ceiling grid frame material to insert ceiling suspension bolts, one arm lifts up a ceiling board to the correct position and the other arm screws the board to the base material.