Advanced virtual reality applications and intelligent agents for construction process optimisation and defect prevention

Asgari, Zeynab and Pour Rahimian, Farzad (2017) Advanced virtual reality applications and intelligent agents for construction process optimisation and defect prevention. Procedia Engineering, 196. pp. 1130-1137. ISSN 1877-7058 (

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Defects and errors in new or recently completed construction work continually pervade the industry. Whilst inspection and monitoring processes are established vehicles for their 'control', the procedures involved are often process driven, time consuming, and resource intensive. Paradoxically therefore, they can impinge upon the broader aspects of project time, cost and quality outcomes. Acknowledging this means appreciating concatenation effects such as the potential for litigation, impact on other processes and influence on stakeholders' perceptions—that in turn, can impede progress and stifle opportunities for process optimisation or innovation. That is, opportunities relating to for example, logistics, carbon reduction, health and safety, efficiency, asset underutilisation and efficient labour distribution. This study evaluates these kinds of challenge from a time, cost and quality perspective, with a focus on identifying opportunities for process innovation and optimisation. It reviews—within the construction domain—state of the art technologies that support optimal use of artificial intelligence, cybernetics and complex adaptive systems. From this, conceptual framework is proposed for development of real-time intelligent observational platform supported by advanced intelligent agents, presented for discussion. This platform actively, autonomously and seamlessly manages intelligent agents (Virtual Reality cameras, Radio-Frequency Identification RFID scanners, remote sensors, etc.) in order to identify, report and document 'high risk' defects. Findings underpin a new ontological model that supports ongoing development of a dynamic, self-organised sensor (agent) network, for capturing and reporting real-time construction site data. The model is a 'stepping stone' for advancement of independent intelligent agents, embracing sensory and computational support, able to perform complicated (previously manual) tasks that provide optimal, dynamic, and autonomous management functions.