Advanced technologies are emerging in the construction industry to assist with production, management, and safety in project work sites. Evidence of these technologies was recorded in the 2006 NCHRP Synthesis 372, Emerging Technologies for Construction Delivery. This report serves as one of the few documents that summarized emerging technologies in transportation construction; most other literature heavily focuses on new construction materials, contracting practices, and construction methods.
As technologies continue to evolve and advance, so does the need to update literature that documents these technologies. For example, NCHRP Synthesis 372 focused on five transportation technologies: global positioning systems for layout, machine guidance, and quantity tracking; handheld computers for construction records; automated temperature tracking for concrete maturity monitoring; four-dimensional computer-aided drafting modeling for constructability analysis and improved communications; and web-based video cameras for remote project monitoring. These technologies were emerging at the time of publication of the report but are now common technologies by current industry standards. As a result, an updated report is required that synthesizes literature on five new emerging technologies:
• Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV’s), or drones, for construction monitoring, documentation, survey, and inventory.
• Visualization techniques for constructability analysis and communication during construction. Current emerging technologies in this field include virtual reality, augmented reality, and 3-D printing.
• Interconnected construction vehicles and equipment at project sites. New functions on small, hand-held equipment allow them to be interconnected for purposes of monitoring performance, required maintenance, and inventory assessment. Larger construction vehicles are interconnected at construction sites to help managers monitor equipment locations, patterns, and production to assist with optimizing their operations. Due to the ability to track interconnected vehicles, knowing the locations of all vehicles a construction site also helps improve safety and with can assist with inventory assessment.
• Safety technologies implemented in construction. As one example, fatigue monitoring technologies that evaluate an operator’s actions and facial movements to determine if the operator is at risk of falling asleep and if intervention is required. Other safety technologies should also be included in the report.
• Instrumentation during construction to evaluate short-term or locked-in boundary conditions or member forces in specialty projects.
An important part of this synthesis report will be to document the barriers that are preventing emerging technologies from becoming industry standards. Knowing the barriers to adoption of these technologies will help the audience of the report prepare adequate budgets and implementation plans for incorporating these technologies in their projects.
Transportation Research Board Cooperative Research Program (NCHRP) Synthesis 372, Emerging Technologies for Construction Delivery.
Jo Allen Gause
First Panel: November 7, 2017, Washington, DC
Teleconference with Consultant:
Kerry A. Bates, Virginia DOT
John Hancock, California DOT
John Hannon, University of Southern Mississippi
Michael D. LaViolette, HDR Engineering
Rachel Lewis, Ohio DOT
Cheryl H. Simmons, Utah DOT
Thomas D. Wiser, New York State DOT
Thomas P. Harman, Federal Highway Administration
Katherine A. Petros, Federal Highway Administration
Nelson H. Gibson, Transportation Research Board