Integrating Artificial Intelligence Into Proven Tools Delivers Results
Artificial intelligence (AI) is a hot media topic these days. Find out how tools and applications that integrate AI with familiar user experiences can help your business take advantage of this emerging technology while avoiding potential pitfalls.
Artificial intelligence (AI) is stepping out from sci-fi movie screens and into real life. For example, the media sensation Chat GPT from Open AI is the fastest-growing consumer application in history, according to UBS.
In the workplace, civil engineers are viewing the AI revolution as both an opportunity and a risk. The technology has the potential to shorten project timelines, reduce costs, and improve building quality and safety.
Some AEC Leaders Approaching AI With Caution
On the other hand, some architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) leaders are approaching AI with caution. These new applications sometimes raise concerns about who owns the design data and how to secure it.
The fact that some popular, household AI apps can make errors or reach faulty conclusions further strains their credibility. For example, Google’s AI chatbot Bard made a very public mistake in its first live demo. Shares in Google’s parent company, Alphabet, fell 9% that day.
Similarly, engineers wonder about potential clashes or unintended results from leaving design decisions to AI applications. As with all automation, concerns are also emerging about how AI will impact the workforce.
The phrase “artificial intelligence” can trigger spooky scenes from Star Trek, 2001: A Space Odyssey or I, Robot in the back of our minds. Some of us wonder how much control in the hands of an AI application is too much.
Even so, as with all previous emerging technologies, AI is neither a panacea nor a threat. It’s a tool that has enormous promise when we apply it appropriately.
Success by Integrating AI with Existing, Familiar Technologies
One of the most successful ways developers have applied AI to construction work is through integration with familiar, existing tools. For example, Trimble and Boston Dynamics have partnered to mount the X7 Laser Scanner on the back of the ever-popular Spot the robot dog.
This technology combination enables onsite crews to collect large volumes of onsite data. The scanned information supports quality assurance, schedule monitoring, and billing tasks.
As Peter Ziegler, Trimble’s program manager for robotics and senior market manager, told Cadalyst, “A lot of the potential [for AI] is in the analysis of data, and trying to find meaning in enormous amounts of data.” By combining robotic laser scanning with AI and machine learning, construction crews can automate many routine, repetitive tasks so they can concentrate on more complex or creative work.
Increasingly, civil engineering firms working with devices like the Trimble X7 are compiling and comparing data gleaned from multiple projects. This helps them identify trends and apply lessons learned to upcoming projects.
Combining Human and Computer Vision
Another way AI is finding its way onto construction sites is by combining human and computer vision. For example, The Trimble XR10 combines a familiar, industry-standard hardhat with Microsoft’s HoloLens 2 mixed reality headset.
Using Trimble Connect for HoloLens, field staff can overlay the building information model (BIM) onto their real-world view of the site. This supports error detection and helps crews understand the design intent while navigating their project.
For outdoor work, the Trimble HoloTint accessory snaps onto the front of the XR10 to improve readability in bright, sunny conditions. HoloTint increases the contrast between the environment and the projected holograms to support mixed reality visibility in open-air or brightly lit settings.
Speaking of outdoor work, the Trimble SiteVision 100 is a high-accuracy, rugged, augmented reality system designed for open-air environments. With SiteVision, crews can work with digital spatial data in a real-world context.
Teams can visualize and measure positions by combining GNSS positioning with augmented reality (AR) technology while navigating a site. SiteVision 100 is compatible with a range of Trimble’s Windows 10 devices, or workers can bring their own Android 9.0 or later devices.
When field staff can visualize the design on location, they can see how the plan will affect the surrounding environment. Using electronic distance measurement (EDM), they can take accurate measurements in place and combine them with photos and field notes to share with other project stakeholders.
With SiteVision, field staff can share data, communicate, and collaborate in real-time without learning any specialized computing skills. When onsite teams combine BIM data with what they see in the field, they can plan and visualize project progress, conduct inspections, and identify potential issues earlier in the construction process.
Underlying all these AI technologies is the concept of constructible modeling. This involves using an application like Tekla Structures to represent the final built environment including materials, spatial relationships, and integrated data.
Tekla Structures supports a more detailed and precise 3D modeling approach. It can also integrate with other construction analysis and management tools using Trimble Connect, enabling cloud-based project data sharing.
Adding Tekla Structural Designer gives engineers the tools they need to analyze and design steel and concrete structures by creating a more detailed design model within the Tekla Structures framework.
Applying its AI capabilities, Tekla Structures can automatically create and adapt detailed and highly accurate models of various structural connections. These can include bolted or welded steel connections, cast-in-place or precast concrete connections, and many other combinations.
Having designed a connection for one location, Tekla Structures can use AI to automatically adapt and apply a similar connection to another point within the model. This saves staff substantial time and effort during the detailing process.
Your team can also use the Tekla Tedds application to automate engineering calculations and boost productivity. This powerful, easy-to-use structural analysis application performs repetitive calculations and helps engineers produce a dependable, multi-material element design.
Project stakeholders who prefer to work with other applications can share data with Tekla Structures in a wide range of file formats, including IFC, DWG, DGN, and CAD. Tekla Structures can also share data with leading project management and ERP applications to support ongoing data analysis across completed projects.
Merge AI With Familiar Tools for a Sound Foundation
When developers merge artificial intelligence with familiar construction tools, they’re building on a sound foundation. This approach maximizes the many benefits of AI while managing risks and providing a user experience that’s easy for staff at all levels to adopt.
Together, BuildingPoint and Trimble are your partners for solutions that blend ground-breaking AI innovation and practical features that solve your company’s construction challenges. We can help you get more top-quality work done while improving your bottom line.
To learn more about how BuildingPoint Canada and Trimble can help your business take advantage of collaboration platforms incorporating AI, why not contact us today? Our team can help you get the most productivity and profitability out of proven AEC applications with built-in AI functionality – from set up to constructible solutions, training, and implementation.