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Funding boost for project to create construction robots

Skanska has won more than £700,000 for a research programme to develop robots for construction projects.

Government agency Innovate UK in conjunction with the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council awarded the funding to the UK arm of the Swedish contractor.

Skanska is leading a consortium aiming to create robotic construction units that can be deployed on sites and in offsite factories to carry out cutting, drilling and fixing.

Skanska head of innovation Sam Stacey said: “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.”

Work on the Flexible Robotic Assembly Modules for the Built Environment project will begin later this year. The total grant awarded is £709,000.

Skanska is working towards a system of “near-site” manufacture it calls “flying factories”.

These would allow structures to be built using robots in controlled conditions, removing the effects of bad weather and other hazards and speeding up projects.

Skanska’s partners in the programme include ABB Robotics, building research body BRE, software firm Tekla UK, consultants Exelin and the University of Reading.

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

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