7 Amazing Technological Advances Within the Construction Industry

Construction technology

Many people may think that the industries of construction and technology have nothing in common, but thanks to recent technological advances, the construction industry is getting a shake-up. From solar panel roads to robotic gloves and indestructible thermal imaging smartphones, technology is changing the future of construction. These are just some of the recent tech developments the construction industry has seen:

  • The smartphone with thermal imaging technology: A brand more closely associated with heavy machinery than communications, CAT has nevertheless released a smartphone that can be dropped off a ladder, knocked into water and emerge to capture still, moving and time-lapse thermal images. Able to detect changes in temperature and even record specific temperature readings from up to 23 metres away, this brilliant piece of technology will help those in the construction industry who want to be able to detect and trace heat signatures. This means that workers would be able to see if an electrical socket was overloaded, identify internal issues with machinery, and even check for leaks in insulation.
  • The drone that can cling to infrastructure: With the potential to save a great deal of time and money, the PRODRONE ‘PD6-CI-L’ drone can be used to inspect buildings and bridges for signs of structural damage. Unlike standard drones that get blown about by the wind, the PRODRONE inspection drone uses negative pressure to negate wind gusts. The unique design of the drone (it closely resembles an upside down letter ‘L’) allows it to ‘cling’ to the side of structures, permitting close and detailed observation. With this technology, workers can carry out strategic inspections on the exterior of high-rise buildings or inaccessible bridge pylons, identifying cracks as tiny as 0.1mm.
  • The electrified concrete that melts ice: A professor at the University of Nebraska has come up with a genius solution to eliminate ice and snow build-up on roads by passing an electrical current through concrete. This revolutionary concrete is created by incorporating carbon particles and metal fibres into a standard concrete mix (with a 20:80 ratio). These particles react when electricity is passed through metal rods in the concrete, and the resulting heat is sufficient to melt ice and snow, even in freezing storm conditions. This ‘electric concrete’ has huge potential for use on airport tarmacs, as it would eliminate flight delays caused by ice on the runways.
  • The concrete that heals itself: Concrete, by its very nature, is rigid and subject to cracking. Constant maintenance is required in order to identify cracks in structures and then ensure they are repaired before they compromise structural integrity. But a research team operating out of Cardiff University in Wales are in the process of trialling 3 separate concepts for ‘self-healing’ concrete. The concrete detects any changes or cracks that occur (without human assistance) and then works to rectify the issue itself. The trials are focusing on 1) mini capsules embedded into the structure that contain known restorative agents mixed with bacteria, 2) the dispersal of healing agents (either organic or inorganic) through the veins of the concrete and 3) the inclusion of polymers that transform to fit a memorised shape.
  • The road covered in solar panels: Just imagine if we could power our homes using solar panels placed on roads. That is exactly what is happening in a small village in the French region of Normandy, where 2,800 m2 of highway (about 1 km long) has been covered in solar panels. Developed by an Anglo-French company, the solar road panels are thin enough to be installed directly over the top of existing roads (making them much more cost effective) and tough enough to withstand heavy traffic. The panels are currently being trialled for 2 years to see if 140 homes can be successfully powered by their energy, and to ensure the panels won’t deteriorate under long-term use.
  • The gloves that give you extra strength:When astronauts were called on to carry out repairs aboard the International Space Station, NASA and GM created the ‘RoboGlove’ to prevent them from getting fatigued muscles. This concept, now licensed to a Swedish company that manufactures medical technology, uses false tendons to copy the movement of the wearers’ muscles. When a worker wearing the glove picks something up the pressure sensors will register the object, and then tighten the grip accordingly (thereby increasing the strength of the person wearing them). This concept of an exoskeleton that can assist workers is also currently being investigated by companies such as Hyundai, BMW and Panasonic.
  • The concrete that bends instead of cracking: Concrete structures are at constant risk of cracking because they don’t have the ability to flex with movement in the surrounding environment. To rectify this, a team of scientists based in Singapore have incorporated a type of polymer microfibre into a standard mix of concrete. The fibres have the ability to slip from side to side when the concrete is put under pressure, allowing it to flex when normally it would crack. This bendable concrete has huge potential for use in areas with a lot of seismic activity, as well as on high-rise buildings that are subject to wind movement. The reduced weight of the concrete (40 times lighter than regular) also makes this an ideal material for use when working at heights.
About Mohit Tater

Mohit is the co-founder and editor of Entrepreneurship Life, a place where entrepreneurs, start-ups, and business owners can find wide ranging information, advice, resources, and tools for starting, running, and growing their businesses.

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