University of Illinois launches center for autonomous construction research

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Chicago Construction News staff writer

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s Grainger College of Engineering has announced the creation of a research and development center dedicated to autonomous construction technologies.

The initiative, funded by the US Army Corps of Engineers, will engage with research on self-driving construction vehicles and their integration into modern construction practices.

With a fleet of self-driving vehicles, the center will focus on questions related to autonomous construction technologies, including ones related to control systems, expert systems, artificial intelligence, gap crossing and demolition; system architecture; and manufacturing technologies such as additive manufacturing.

“This new center will provide leadership in translational research related to autonomous construction systems; support the growth of entrepreneurial ecosystems, programs and expertise; provide a community hub for emerging technologies; and help strengthen Illinois’ reputation as a technologically advanced and high-tech hub within the US,” said Professor William R. Norris, the center’s founding director.

Work will focus on new research directions; provide training, conferences and workshops; and promote partnerships among academia, industry and government.

It’s designed to be self-funded after its third year. Initially, it will be funded with $4.25 million from ERDC, with the potential for an additional $3.75 million in 2024. The first round of research projects will be supervised by a team of subject matter experts from the Grainger College of Engineering and Texas A&M University.

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