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Siemens researchers are developing a system for monitoring construction sites that uses optimized planning and logistics to save time, money, and energy. It regularly generates and updates a three-dimensional model of the construction site, documents the progress, and detects irregularities. The system is being jointly developed with the Graz University of Technology for the Construct project and is currently being tested at a number of construction sites in Austria.
Rarely does a completed building exactly correspond to the original plan. As a result of changed requirements, specific local conditions, or minor building flaws, there are always details at construction sites that deviate from the specifications. Detailed data concerning the progress of the work, gathered at regular intervals, would be useful for detecting errors and adjusting planning and logistics. Until now, the state of construction sites has been documented by means of photos or webcams, and sometimes with laser scanners. But this isn't a systematic method, and the data isn't evaluated to determine that the reality corresponds to the plan.
That's why the researchers at Siemens Corporate Technology in Austria are developing a system that will regularly record the state of a construction site. This is done with the help of permanently installed cameras, handheld cameras, and with aerial images captured by remote-controlled drones from many different angles. A time-dependent 3D model is generated from the collected data and then semantically evaluated. That means the model is compared with the construction site plans, making it possible to detect significant deviations as the work at the site is progressing. An augmented-reality technology precisely superimposes the plans on the current images. The researchers have also endowed the software with several new capabilities: It can detect deviations from the original plan and use a color-coding system to mark places where there is construction activity of special note. This is also how the software differentiates between the image elements in order to determine what are permanent structures and what is construction site equipment such as cranes or vans. The construction managers can thus continually adjust their planning to current requirements.
The Construct system is suitable for application not only at construction sites; it can also provide current 3D models for service and maintenance of buildings and facilities. It also could theoretically be used in the field of urban development, where a three-dimensional model of a city can inform decision-makers about which locations are appropriate for installations of solar modules, for instance.
Reference Number: IN 2012.03.6e