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AEC Sector Underestimating Artificial Intelligence and Automation ?

Increasing demand for infrastructure amidst the surge in the urbanization of cities and newly emerging commercial nerves has spurred the need to reinvent and rethink traditional approaches for delivering infrastructure. This has been identified as even more critical given the global drive and discourse on the sustainability of the construction sector and its health and safety performance. Given the potential gains of adopting construction automation and AI in infrastructure delivery, stakeholders’ convincing appreciation of its benefit is vital to its widespread adoption in the AEC sector. This explored and evaluated the critical benefits of integrating automation in construction processes in the architectural, engineering, and construction sector and the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in driving its systems and workflows. The study adopts an interpretive structural modeling approach based on interviews of construction stakeholders in diverse countries to develop a hierarchical model of the interrelationships of the benefits. Furthermore, the Matrice d’Impacts croises-multiplication applique a classement analysis (MICMAC) was used to categorize the benefits. Highlighted perceived benefits such as improved project quality, simplification of construction tasks, workflow improvements, and safety performance, amongst others, were fractionalized into levels. The study’s findings are critical in satisfying a cost-benefit index of adopting automation and AI in the AEC sector. The results provide recommendations on effective approaches pivotal to driving automation and AI for practice and research. This is of further importance to construction stakeholders, policymakers, and local authorities in building strategies and roadmaps for proper integration of these systems and widespread adoption.

The adoption of automation and AI in the AEC sector relies heavily on stakeholders’ perception 

Challenges such as declining construction productivity , increasing scarcity of skills, high incidence of construction hazards, and need to improve productivity and ensure quality project delivery have spurred research and development of technologies to give the built sector a competitive edge and improve infrastructure delivery. Central to these emerging technologies is the design and application of automation and AI in the built industry to improve construction tasks, workflows, and processes The difference touted by the adoption of automation and AI is in the simplicity of construction tasks, repetitiveness that relieves human stress and strain, improvement in construction safety, and enhanced productivity, amongst others.

Despite the benefits of automation and AI, awareness and interest in adoption are low in the industry, Major reasons for this have been attributed to the perception of automation and AI in the industry as hype rather than practical usefulness, the emerging nature of the systems, technological requirement, and underestimating their benefits. Despite the diverse impactful and critical perceived benefits, the uptake of automation and AI in construction in industry and research is still relatively low. As the danger of these unchecked perceptions lies in its potential to create a technology with averse disposition toward automation and AI adoption in the industry, one of the most significant current discussions about automation and AI is justifying its cost-use benefits.

Following the perspectives mentioned previously, these indicate a need to contribute to the gap in knowledge by identifying and assessing the practical benefits availed to stakeholders through a different approach from other studies and grounding the identified benefits on expert perspectives. To unravel and bring to the fore the critical perceived benefits of automation and AI in construction, it is imperative to aggregate the benefits to avail evidential backing to support clients and policymakers in automation and AI adoption and implementation process. Therefore, the study bridges the gap between knowledge and practice by highlighting critical benefits from the perspectives of industry professionals and stakeholders. Furthermore, the study attempts to categorize the highlighted automation and AI benefits while also recommending strategies to advance the development and adoption of automation and AI in construction imperative for policy, practice, research, design, and curriculum development.

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