Expert:AI, Robotics to Reduce Construction Costs in Gulf Region by 20 Pct
26 Sep, 2018  |  Source:Xinhua  |  Hits:1250

DUBAI, Sept. 25 (Xinhua) -- The innovative products that the Fourth Industrial Revolution generates can reduce construction costs in the Gulf region by up to 20 percent, an expert said on Tuesday.

Sassan Hatam, partner at the Middle East branch of the German consultancy firm Roland Berger, made the remarks during an interview with Xinhua on the sidelines of the ongoing Construction Technology Forum 2018 in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Hatam hailed the Dubai government's decision in May to have 25 percent of Dubai's new buildings to be 3D-printed as "a step into the right direction."

Most of the construction processes have not changed in the last 50 years, and there is the hidden value to reduce costs and increase building efficiency, Hatam said.

The use of artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, Internet of things (IoT) and augmented reality, which are part of the new technologies of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, can reduce the building costs by up to 20 percent, as the digital revolution has the potential to disrupt the entire value chain on any construction site, said Hatam.

"Computer simulations based on AI can calculate the exact inclusion of, for example, a ready bathroom or reception room into a multi-story house, while robots can do the work onsite," Hatam said.

With augmented reality, engineers can wear virtual reality goggles and send camera-equipped mini-robots or drones into the building under construction to monitor the work, he said.

Dubai will be the first Arab city to hold the World Expo, themed "Connecting Minds, Creating the Future," from Oct. 20 to April 10, 2021.

According to the Dubai government, Expo-related construction project such as the extension of the Dubai Metro network are valued at 42.5 billion U.S. dollars.

However, Dubai's biggest bank Emirates NBD said business activities in the construction sector in the sheikhdom which harbours the world's tallest tower Burj Khalifa have eased since the start of the year.

One reason was the five percent value-added tax imposed by the UAE government on the start of 2018, which has pushed costs up.

Real estate advisory firm JLL said that office rents have declined 13 percent year on year in the second quarter in Dubai due to sluggish demand, while leading to delays of some new construction projects.

Hatam insisted that the Fourth Industrial Revolution, which is marked by some technological breakthroughs in many fields including AI, robotics, nanotechnology, quantum computing, augmented reality, biotechnology and IoT, won't be a "job killer."

While AI, augmented reality and robotics would reduce the need for blue collar workers on constructions sites in the future, new job opportunities relating to the programming, control and operation of robots, AI and IoT will increase, Hatam said.