At this point in time, a number of technologies are set to converge in the near future. Artificial Intelligence, robotics and 3D printing are just a few such advancements that promise to revolutionize the way we live, work and think.
A number of industries, including manufacturing, information technology and big finance are already feeling the effects of what is being referred to as the “rise of the machine”, but what about construction, and by extension, landscaping? Will we see a technology spurred revolution in our field, or will it be business as usual for the foreseeable future? Let’s take a look at a few emerging technologies that may suggest the former.
3D Printed Houses
Although far from hitting the mass market, 3D printed houses are already a reality. These can involve 3D printing a mould from a reusable material such as wax, which is then filled with reinforced concrete. The wax is then melted off, filtered and used again for the next project. Other methods include printing directly with concrete to build up the structure one layer at a time. Plumbing, roofing and other fittings are still generally left for human installation.
Applied to landscape construction, this technology may lead to quicker, cheaper and more efficient construction of outdoor buildings, such as poolhuts and pavillions. However, as it stands currently, this process requires specialized machinery that is limited in availability to the companies pushing at the boundaries of automation.
Algorithm Generated Structures
Using AI, structures can be tested against the forces acting upon them during day to day use. The algorithm is then able to determine the most efficient usage of materials in creating the strongest framework possible. A 3D model can be generated from this information and printed using steel, plastic and other materials. The result is something that appears more organic than man-made.
One company pushing the boundaries of this technology is MX3D Metal who are planning to 3D print a bridge across a canal in Amsterdam, from one side to the other with no additional installation necessary. The potential for this technology in landscaping extends to the creation of lightweight, artistic skeletal structures that can serve to provide shade or decoration.
The Way Forward
So where is all this going? Will robots take construction worker jobs? Will you be able to completely automate your workforce? Will landscape designers and architect become obsolete?
Perhaps, but probably not within the next decade or so. It’s anyone’s guess what might happen once the technology is perfected and becomes readily accessible, but for now even the most advanced systems require the human touch. The finer work of landscaping, the coordination needed for the installation of small fittings and fixtures, the one on one interaction with clients, these are things that machines aren’t very good at. At least not yet.
While we may not see a robot takeover of the industry, these technologies may prove to be invaluable tools in staying ahead of the competition in years to come, and are certainly worth keeping an eye on. Whatever the case, change is undoubtedly on the horizon.