Balfour Beatty predicts rise of the robots and 'human-free' construction


A new report predicts that construction sites will be human-free by 2050 and calls for the infrastructure industry to embrace the rise of robotic and digital technology.

International infrastructure group Balfour Beatty's new paper - Innovation 2050: A Digital Future for the Infrastructure Industry - argues that adopting and mainstreaming digital and other new technologies including robotics and artificial intelligence, ‘will be a game-changer for the industry, speeding up the otherwise slow-and-steady modernisation of the sector’.

The paper makes '10 predictions for 2050', including that robots will become more prevalent in construction, that the shape and offer of the infrastructure industry will change significantly, with new business models, products and services, and that new jobs and industries will be created, while some will disappear.

It also makes 10 recommendations, including that the construction and infrastructure industry must become more agile, as well as needing a more agile workforce with new skills, and that new infrastructure should be future-proofed as it is built.

Balfour Beatty group chief executive Leo Quinn said: ‘We are experiencing a digital revolution, redefining how we as an industry operate; becoming faster, better and more agile. By adopting and embracing the rise of digital solutions we are more able to deliver efficient, effective and safer solutions to our clients and customers.

‘These changes will mean we have to ensure our industry trains our current and future employees with the skills to exploit the use of new technology, new materials and new methods of working.’

The report argues that digital technologies such as autonomous vehicles are already ‘changing the way we work, shop, travel and relax, how we interact with the world around us and how we think about, commission and build our infrastructure’.


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