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Autonomous technology not always aligned with pain points

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Despite greater availability of solutions companies struggle to find the best autonomous technology to solve their specific challenges.

Even with a wide variety of solutions available, firms appear to have trouble identifying the best autonomous or automated technology to solve their specific challenges and pain points, according to the latest Hexagon Autonomous Construction Technology Outlook white paper, ‘Achieving better project outcomes through autonomy’.

The types of autonomous technology used among firms varies greatly, from software and tools to self-driving construction vehicles and robotics, as does the level of autonomy.

Project management was cited as the most popular application (32 per cent) followed closely by workplace safety (28 per cent), quality control (26 per cent), surveying (26 per cent) and vehicle operation, document management and verification/project inspection (all at 25 per cent).

And among the autonomous technologies used, almost half are partially or conditionally autonomous (requiring human oversight and/or intervention to complete tasks), while the remaining 23 per cent and 30 per cent are split between limited autonomy and full autonomy, respectively.

Even with a wide variety of solutions available, firms appear to have trouble identifying the best technology to solve their specific challenges and pain points.

Among survey respondents who stated that improving supply chain management is a top priority in the next 12-18 months, only 28 per cent reported their companies had invested in autonomous monitoring technology, one of the top reported technologies that aid in this area.

Additionally, 37 per cent of respondents found fully autonomous robotics drove sustainability benefits, the leading priority in the next 3 to 5 years, yet only 17 per cent of firms are investing in this type of technology. So while firms are reporting clear benefits across key business areas, their use of autonomous solutions is not always aligned to their most pressing challenges.

The disparity between technology selection and business priorities represents a significant opportunity to help firms better address specific challenges and pain points through more targeted autonomous technology adoption. A little over half the firms surveyed plan on investing an average of $7.1M in autonomy within the next three years — with 30 per cent planning to invest over $10 million.

These investments among many other priorities competing for resources indicate that the industry sees value in autonomous technology in the long-term. In fact, the majority of respondents believe autonomy will be “very” to “extremely” impactful in supporting profitability (63 per cent), sustainability (62 per cent), market competitiveness (62 per cent), and owner satisfaction (62 per cent). So, the more aligned these solutions are with a firm’s growth strategies and pain points, the better the return on investment they will achieve in the future.

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