Construction robots in Japan weld, bolt, and lift to tackle worker shortage
Japan Times -- Apr 24
Robots that can weld, lift and bolt are being developed to help bridge labor shortages at domestic construction sites, though their use will be limited to night shifts when no human workers will be nearby due to safety and regulatory concerns.

Major construction firm Shimizu Corp. showed off several robots Monday, including one already in use at construction sites that picked up a big pile of boards and took them into an elevator.

The Robo-Welder and Robo-Buddy, with twisting and turning mechanical arms, will be deployed at construction sites later this year, the company said.

Japan’s construction sector is booming but contractors are struggling to fill labor shortages — a problem playing out in other parts of the world, including the U.S.

The robots demonstrated at a Shimizu test facility in Tokyo can reduce the number of workers needed for each of the tasks they carried out to about a third or a fourth of what’s required today.

But construction work is so varied, delicate and complex that the robots are able to handle just 1 percent of overall construction work, according to Masahiro Indo, Shimizu’s managing executive officer, who oversees construction technology.

Trying to raise that to even 10 percent is a major challenge and might be too costly, he said.

Robotics are common in manufacturing sites, such as auto plants, but those machines are stationery and carrying out the same task over and over, often in sterile and enclosed environments.

Robots used in construction sites have to move around. Although much of what they may do is repetitive, they still have to respond to uneven floors and zigzagging routes, depending on a building’s design.

人手不足の解消に向けた次世代の建設用のロボットが公開されました。 清水建設は、建設現場でセンサーで形を認識して鉄骨を溶接したり、天井ボードを取り付けたり、最大で1トンの資材を運ぶことができる3種類のロボットを開発しました。
News sources: Japan Times, ANNnewsCH
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