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£18M for digital construction technology research


An £18M government fund has been set up to improve digital construction technology.   

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) has been given the money to fund innovations, ranging from digitally-designed 3D-printed concrete components to developing ways to organise teams of onsite robots.

Another project will research how voice-activated artificial intelligence and augmented reality can be integrated with the assembly of components to speed up construction and increase productivity, without compromising health and safety.

In total the £18M will be split across 28 projects. The money spent by UKRI has come via the Industry Strategy Challenge Fund.

The projects aim to improve construction quality through off-site manufacturing approaches; the way buildings are powered with active generation and storage; and the design and management of buildings through digitally-enabled simulation.

Construction minister Richard Harrington said: “The use of artificial intelligence, digital techniques and off-site manufacturing, helps us harness new methods of working.”

UKRI chief executive Sir Mark Walport added: “Technologies being developed in the UK provide a significant opportunity to transform the way we build, such as the use of augmented reality to improve design or robotics to aid complex building assembly.

“Through projects such as these, the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund allows us to catalyse innovation across the UK’s vital construction industry improving productivity, sustainability and safety.”

Earlier this month, millions of pounds in funding from the government’s Industrial Strategy was also set aside for British robotics experts to develop tiny robots capable of operating and repairing pipework from the inside.

Research to develop the tiny drones, with versions capable of flight and others operating underwater, won a £7M share of the £27M fund.

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