Drones and floating building - is this the future of construction?

A new report into the future of the construction industry, commissioned by Virgin StartUp and Colmore Tang Construction in support of their joint ConstrucTech initiative, has pointed toward some big changes ahead within the industry.

The report, written by renowned futurologist Dr. Ian Pearson, suggests that 3D printed walls, drones and biometric roofs made from recycled plastic taken from the ocean could change the face of the industry over the next few years.

"By 2025 we will already see huge changes in the construction industry thanks to technology with drones, artificial intelligence (AI) and 3D printing all becoming commonplace," commented Dr Pearson. "By 2050, we could see floating buildings or apartments that could save the housing crisis using carbon foam that’s lighter than air - the possibilities for this really are endless."

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But how will this technology be practically implemented? The report outlines a scenario where drones will be able to carry large materials up construction sites, plastic bottles recovered from the world’s oceans will be recycled to create biometric buildings and AI will be commonplace, linking to sensors and cameras around construction sites, ensuring that buildings are being developed according to the architect’s plans.

While the news might be on concern to some within the industry, the report describes a scenario where workers control and implement this technology - as opposed to being replaced by it. Humans would alongside AIs and will not only see these robots as clever tools, but also colleagues that they might start to develop unique relationships with.

Looking even further ahead, Dr Pearson proposes that by 2075 we could even see AI responsible for a wave of kinetic architecture, resulting in self-assembling buildings that will allow new structures to be formed from existing materials.

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ConstrucTech is an open innovation programme that supports start-ups to prepare for the trial and adoption of their product or service by one of the UK’s fastest-growing contractors, Colmore Tang.

The six-week programme will see participants exposed to start-up experts and mentors who will help them to prepare their business to scale, along with senior executives and site staff from Colmore Tang, who will help them to prepare their product or service for successful adoption by the contractor. The window for applications is open until May 31st, with the programme running from June 25th to August 3rd , head over to the Virgin StartUp website to find out more.

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