Automation has found its place in nearly every facet of our lives. From robotics and processes in factories to control systems in glass production machinery, automation has become the answer to increased efficiency and the unpredictable nature of humans.

Gilbane Building Company and Nextera Robotics entered into a joint venture in late 2021 to develop a self-monitoring robot to track construction projects. The two companies plan to develop an artificial intelligence platform that uses a fleet of autonomous mobile robots to track construction progress and provide safety monitoring at jobsites.

“Our robotics platform is designed to offer a cost-efficient, automated means to make construction sites safer and more efficient,” says Gilbane’s Michael McKelvy, president and CEO. “We’re always looking at ways to deliver greater value to our clients and our partnership with Nextera Robotics aims to do just that.”

The robotics platform will provide autonomous surveillance for construction and facilities-related services. These services include pre-construction planning, management, general contracting, design-build and more.

Its goal of the robotics platform is to provide cost-efficient, automated means to make construction sites safer and more efficient.

The data collected through the robotics platform will provide a range of uses from safety to progress tracking, along with post-completion data for building owners through 360-images delivered on a 3D map. The platform will also offer a visual archive detailing a building’s complete infrastructure once the project is complete.

“We truly believe that smart and gradual involvement of robotics and AI on all levels of construction, in every process can improve productivity, increase safety and promote sustainable operations and a better environmental footprint for the entire industry,” says Lana Graf, CEO and founder of Nextera Robotics.

As futuristic as the goals of Gilbane and Nextera appear, robotics and automation have already found their place in the contract glazing segment of the construction industry. Companies now use robotic and software systems to reduce the need for labor, increase safety and keep operating costs minimal while delivering high-quality products.

“In the glass industry, it’s more about increasing quality,” says Jason Williams, general manager of American Insulated Glass in Birmingham, Ala. “Automation increases quality and throughput without adding labor. If I’m manually making a shower door maybe I can make a couple an hour. However, if I’m making shower doors on the CNC machine, I still need that guy, but now I can put out 15 to 20 an hour.”

According to an analysis by Tractica, a market intelligence firm that provides in-depth analysis of market opportunities, the global market for construction robotics will grow from $22.7 million in 2018 to around $226 million by 2025. Tractica also predicts that 7,000 construction robots will be deployed by 2025 to address a variety of construction and demolition tasks.

As automation and digitization drive a revolution in the construction and glass industry, it will be interesting to see how the dynamic between robot and humans play out as automation becomes widespread.