Projects supported by UK Research & Innovation (UKRI) range from using 3D printing of concrete to on-site and off-site robotic assistance, augmented reality and artificial intelligence.
More than £13m is being invested in collaborative R&D projects using AI, off-site construction, modular building and the internet of things
New £5m Research Leaders programme is part of the government’s industrial strategy to find cheaper, better ways of doing thing.
In total, there is £18m funding from the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF), much of it promoting automisation and off-site manufacturing.
Projects include: designing and managing buildings through digitally-enabled simulation; constructing quality buildings through offsite manufacturing approaches; and powering buildings with active generation and storage.
- nPlan – A project that uses artificial intelligence and algorithms to predict and plan optimum scheduling of construction projects – potentially reducing construction time.
- AIMCH ( Advanced Industrialised Methods for the Construction of Homes) – consortium includes Barratt, Stewart Milne and L&Q, and aims to bring down the cost of off-site manufacture for house-building.
- HIPER Pile – Led by Keltbray, this project is looking to develop new piling solutions to integrate energy and rainwater re-use when laying foundations.
Construction minister Richard Harrington said: “The use of artificial intelligence, digital techniques and off-site manufacturing, help us harness new methods of working. This delivers on the government’s construction sector deal, which pledges to build better performing buildings, using less energy and providing better value for taxpayers.”
UKRI chief executive Sir Mark Walport said: “Technologies being developed in the UK provide a significant opportunity to transform the way we build, such as the use of augmented reality to improve design or robotics to aid complex building assembly. Through projects such as these, the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund allows us to catalyse innovation across the UK’s vital construction industry improving productivity, sustainability and safety.”