A JCB excavator is a key part of a £72m project to help digitise the construction industry.
The Hydradig wheeled excavator has found a home in the Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC) based in Coventry and is being used for a project known as Big Yellow Robots.
The project is supported with engineering support and a skilled operator, and aims to use sensing technology to map every movement undertaken for lifting and placing different components.
The overall aim is to see how effectively robots can work in a construction environment.
Currently, the Hydradig is being tested with a range of repetitive tasks, such as lifting and placing glass components, writing on a pair of whiteboards using its tilt/rotations, and running along an inclined string without coming into contact.
The idea is to replicate the work seen with automation in manufacturing, which used three-dimensional grids and modelled physical movements to create a repeatable complex process to enable effective automatic manufacturing.
This principle works perfectly well in an environment which is unlikely to significantly change such as a factory or warehouse.
However, working on-site adds to it a lot of variables which currently would require the use of a skilled machine operator.
The Big Yellow Robots project therefore at this stage does not have the goal of a fully autonomous construction site, but one which provides aids to accuracy and consistency to particular tasks.
This would, in turn, be used to allow for complex construction machinery to be easily learned by a relatively new operator and allow them to work to a very high standard.
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