Skanska wins grant to develop construction robots

£700,000 grant to fund development of robots for on-site and off-site construction

Skanska UK has received a funding award worth more than £700,000 to develop the use of robots for on-site and off-site construction.

The award came from Innovate UK and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) as part of their collaborative R&D programme.

Skanska is leading a research consortium to create robotic construction units that can be deployed on site or in ‘flying factories’, to carry out cutting, drilling and fixing.

‘Flying factories’ is a system of near-site manufacture, which allows structures to be built in controlled conditions, removing the potential effects of bad weather and other on-site hazards and speeding up the assembly of the building on site.

The advantage of robotics in construction is that it is safe, green, accurate and fast.

Skanska’s head of innovation, Sam Stacey, said: “We are delighted to have been awarded this grant. Robotics in construction is an unknown field and provides great opportunities. A robot to drill and fix to the underside of slabs, for example, would eliminate a lot of work at height in dusty, noisy environments.”

The total grant is for £709,000. Starting in the fourth quarter of this year, the project, Flexible Robotic Assembly Modules for the Built Environment (FRAMBE), will scope out the opportunities for automation and develop robotic applications, building on a suite of Skanska initiatives that are transforming productivity in construction.

Skanska’s partners in the project are ABB Robotics, The Building Research Establishment, Tekla UK, Exelin, and the University of Reading.

Stacey said: “This approach, of collaboration with experts from a range of industries, is bringing to construction the levels of quality and cost reduction experienced sectors such as automotive.”

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