A Research Roadmap for Off-Site Construction: Automation and Robotics


  • Jeremy Bowmaster Department of Civil Engineering, University of New Brunswick
  • Jeff Rankin Department of Civil Engineering, University of New Brunswick




The development of a research roadmap was undertaken to further the activities of a joint industry-university-government initiative in off-site construction research in Canada. The roadmap identifies the general research areas of structural design, construction materials, building science, advanced manufacturing, logistics and transportation, automation and robotics, and digitized construction. The development of the roadmap included a broad literature review of peer reviewed academic journals, select conference proceedings, and industry publications. The review of recent research in these areas was analyzed from the perspectives of application area, technology area and innovation phase. The purpose of the analysis was to identify the current activities and opportunities for further research. For example, in the area of automation and robotics, the results showed the majority of construction automation research relates to the actual production phase, as opposed to planning or operations. In terms of innovation maturity, little research is being undertaken with respect to the implementation and adoption of automation technologies, and very little research in technology development or prototyping. In addition, applied research is being conducted at approximately half the rate of basic research. A more recent trend has been greater research interest in industrial production technologies, particularly in additive manufacturing. Very little research is being conducted with respect to non-robotic cyber-physical systems including, IoT connectivity, drone technologies, or construction focused actuator and manipulator technologies. This paper will discuss the broader results of the research roadmap with a focus on automation and robotics.