LSU researchers studying benefits of robotics technology in construction industry

Two LSU professors hope their current research could one day turn robotic exoskeletons into reality in the construction space. In the process, they’ll improve worker safety and efficiency, and perhaps even create more opportunities for older workers and women.

Chao Wang, a construction management professor, and Fereydoun Aghazadeh, professor of industrial engineering, are working with Rutgers University as part of an integrated, multidisciplinary effort to bring emerging robotic technologies such as a wearable exoskeleton to the industrial construction industry, 10/12 Industry Report details in a new feature.

As a preliminary step, the group is using a $150,000 National Science Foundation planning grant to perform a yearlong pilot study and conduct virtual workshops to gather information from potential users.

It is all made possible by NSF’s 10 Big Ideas—Future of Work at the Human-Technology Frontier program and gives LSU and Rutgers one year to create a team of researchers to compete for a $3 million research grant this spring.

For now, the team is looking into how variable sensors and robotics technology can keep construction workers safe and increase their productivity. During the workshops, they’re also discussing the potential benefits of an exoskeleton device on health insurance costs and worker longevity.

“We want to listen to them and learn about their requirements on these projects,” Wang says, “as well as get their input and feedback.”

About 40 participated in the first workshop in December, a group comprising mostly project managers from the construction industry in Louisiana and other states, as well as organizations such as Associated Builders and Contractors’ Pelican Chapter in Baton Rouge, Associated General Contractors of America and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. Read the full story.