University of Illinois set to build center for autonomous construction

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According to a press release from the University of Illinois Grainger College of Engineering, a new research and development center dedicated to autonomous construction technologies with up to $8 million in funding. The new Center for Autonomous Construction in Manufacturing at Scale at the Champaign, Illinois, university will focus on tech areas relevant to the field of autonomous construction, according to the release. Those fields include control systems, expert systems, artificial intelligence, gap crossing and demolition, system architecture and manufacturing technologies.

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The new centre is a spinoff of the UIUC Autonomous and Unmanned Vehicle Systems Lab. William R. Norris, the founding director of the centre, is also the director of the project.. Projects completed by AUVSL include a robot-augmented mobility wheelchair device and an architecture for autonomous additive manufacturing with concrete.

Who is funding the University of Illinois autonomous construction center

The university anticipates CACMS to be self funded after its third year, according to the release. Initially, USACE’s Engineer Research and Development Center will provide the program with $2.45 million. There is the potential for an additional $1.8 million later in 2023 and $3.75 million in 2024.

In addition to the centre, Norris said the university also plans to pull in other professors on seed projects. This will be done through a combination of grant money and graduate student submissions. For construction, Norris mentioned an autonomous bulldozer project that can clear minefields and brush. It will also fill in trenches and remove obstacles.

Norris told Construction Dive in an email that the centre aims to bring the industry together with academia, commercial centres and startups to develop new technologies.

“We believe we can better the pipeline for Illinois and the U.S. to be successful commercially by creating technology that is translatable to any industry where there’s automation,” Norris said in the email.

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