There’s nothing like a conference to bring an industry together to showcase the latest and greatest technologies and this year’s Dimensions+ Conference was no exception.
From robots and AI to next-gen software releases, the future of construction is shaping up to be quite the technological sandbox.
Here are some emerging construction technologies that we saw during the conference.
1. Brain Computer Interface
Trimble Emerging Tech
With the power of brain waves, watch as two attendees battle on a remote control race track. Starting with a quick training exercise of ‘push’ and ‘stop’, the program isolates the opposing brain activity to then control the toy car on the track.
Definitely an Expo favorite to participate in and always had a crowd watching. This technology could have tremendous applications across the construction workforce for things like machine control or even brain-powered tasks to lessen manual labor.
2. Autonomous & Semi-Autonomous Machinery
Trimble Civil Construction // Trimble Autonomy
The highlight of this year's Offsite was driving itself to success. In the Trimble Autonomy area, you guessed it, autonomous and semi-autonomous machines ran all day showcasing their upgraded capabilities. An autonomous excavator dug a 30-meter trench on its own while an Dynapac compactor leveled its area with precision.
Meanwhile, a semi-autonomous dozer equipped with Trimble Earthworks was controlled by remote control with Trimble Autonomy team up above. Once the excavator finished its trench, the dozer would fill the hole and things would start from the top.
3. Trimble Construction Cloud with Microsoft Azure
Trimble Construction // Microsoft
Live sharing capabilities across platforms | Source: Trimble
Announced at the Main Stage this year, Trimble's Construction Cloud co-created with Microsoft is set to be a true industry game changer.
Ultimately, it links projects, data, process and people like never before through things like a Common Data Environment (CDE), Open APIs via the Trimble Developer Portal, and unique capabilities like live sharing and custom, configured workflows.
- Eliminate inefficiencies and improve your accuracy with configured & custom workflows
- Collaborate and scale with connected work in real-time
- Liberate your data by connecting the office with site operation tools
4. Hilti ON!Track App
A new collaboration with Trimble allows contractors to track tools and allocate them to jobs through a new integration between Hilti's ON!Track asset management system and the Trimble Viewpoint ERP and the Trimble Construction One suite.
The tracking system uses NFC tags on the tools allowing contractors to see where and when equipment was used for invoicing without manual entry — connecting the field to finance.
5. The Great Library
You may be wondering how a 2,000 year old library in Turkey became the foundation of a modern construction resource. From ancient Rome to modern day marvel, discover how a team of intrepid architects, engineers and contractors tackle the most important question in Construction, 'Is Connected Construction possible?'. It looks to be quite the exciting project connecting stakeholders across the industry and apply them to real-world scenarios.
6. CAT Command / CAT Vision / CAT Payload
CAT brought an entire suite of technologies to present with CAT Command, CAT Vision & CAT Payload.
With Cat Command technologies, you can get improvements in operator safety, equipment availability, and site productivity using remote control, semi-autonomous or fully autonomous equipment. Universal controls allow operators to connect to 5 machines from a single station.
CAT Vision provides personnel detection and alerts the operator on the ever changing site conditions happening around the machine. Finally, CAT Payload brings smart technology to loading material that measures and manages the payload accurately.
7. Trimble Construction One: Civil Workflow
Also announced on the Main stage of the Construction keynote were the benefits of Trimble Construction One solution suite. Three workflows were detailed further including an MEP Procurement workflow, Structural Model to Fab workflow, and a Civil Bid to Build workflow.
The Connected Civil Bid to Build workflow is meant to deliver production control throughout your project. The estimate is created, which then sends pay items to the financial management solution with cost codes & types, and a work order is created for the operator onsite. The operator's machine receives the machine control — saving up to 20% productivity — and the connected machine reports real-time progress updates back to the office to compare with actuals.
8. Sketchup for iPad
Announced in the Fall of 2021, this is one innovation that really will reverberate throughout the industry. As an accessible bridge for architects and designers, this allows the design to jump from the page — or rather the desktop — and become truly mobile for design on-site, on the go, and everywhere in between.
- Support of Apple Pencil, multi-touch gestures, and AR viewing
- Backed with the 3D Warehouse with a library of four million pre-built models, fixtures, and more
- A robust integration with the cloud-based collaboration platform, Trimble Connect, to keep everything synced
9. Spot the Dog & other robot friends
Boston Dynamics // PFF Robotics // Trimble Autonomy
To no surprise, the hit of the conference was our robotic best friend, Spot the Dog from Boston Dynamics. Spot showed off its new & upgraded movements that have already proved to have great applications on the construction site.
This time though, Spot was joined with some robotic friends from PFF (Piaggio Fast Forward) Robotics. The Gita model is a rounded robot with wheels that can follow your movements and carry your things for you. PFF also featured a larger model, cart style, that carried spools of wire and various equipment as an example.
It's not the first layout printer the market has seen, but could be an emerging leader as HP combines their knowhow in innovative printing and robotics technology. Improve layout productivity by 10x with these robots as it prints on-slab text and accurate layouts on a variety of printing surfaces and intricate arcs & circumferences.
The layout robots are also compatible with Trimble's latest robotic total station hardware, Trimble Ri, for indoor construction projects. Equipped with automatic level detection, self-calibration, and Trimble VISION technology for advanced tracking, the Trimble Ri enables the SitePrint robot to achieve autonomous, high-accuracy indoor layout work.
11. SLAM map-based localization
Trimble Positioning / Perrone Robotics
Knowing the precise location and orientation of a vehicle in GNSS difficult or denied environments is key in guidance, steering, optimal path planning and obstacle avoidance to ensure a safe driving experience. Showcased at the Expo, Perrone Robotics had one of their AVs that uses Trimble SLAM (Simultaneous Localization and Mapping) technology to deliver accurate location data to its autonomous vehicles with high precision.
On a related note, General Motors and Trimble announced this Fall of reaching a milestone together of driving more than 34 million miles with Super Cruise engaged on GM vehicles. This Super Cruise mode maintains in-lane positioning for hands-free driving using a similar Positioning technology with RTX (Real-Time eXtended) technology to deliver high-GNSS accuracy corrections since 2017 with GM.
12. CAT Compact Track Loader with Siteworks Machine Guidance
[Releasing at 2023 CONEXPO]
Trimble Civil Construction
Running at the offsite, this CAT 289D3 showcased its improved design and smooth handling as it ran on Trimble's Siteworks Machine Guidance. It delivers extended reach and lift height with 15% more space in the cab for operator comfort.
If you missed out on the 2022+ Dimensions but would like to explore more of the content produced there as well as start looking into attending in 2023, you can find more info here on Trimble Dimensions.