$750K grant will help develop AI training games for construction pros

Dive Brief:

  • Say goodbye to training films — the National Science Foundation awarded Miami-based Florida International University a $750,000 grant last month to ​​develop virtual reality games to train workers in various fields, including advanced robotics.
  • The goal of development will be to create a platform to teach AEC students and professionals how to operate industrial robots, according to the release. As users perform tasks in the system, they will be asked to talk through their decisions. Artificial intelligence will then track their responses to determine which concepts they are acquiring, then recommend specific lessons to the user. For example, if a participant is struggling with how to use a robot’s pivot points to reach an object, the system will go back to the words and actions of the user to provide the most relevant lesson, according to the release.
  • The grant’s funding lasts for up to three years and can total up to $850,000, according to the program’s website. The rest of the funds will go to the University of California-Irvine, which is partnering with FIU on the project, according to Maydel Santana, FIU’s associate vice president of media relations and communications.

Dive Insight:

The grant is one of 20 that was awarded through the NSF Research on Emerging Technologies for Teaching and Learning program, which is geared toward solutions for teaching and learning emergent technologies, such as artificial intelligence.

“This grant provides an opportunity to develop a personalized learning tool that tailors robotics lessons and their delivery sequences for differences in ability, experience and sociocultural backgrounds,” said Shahin Vassigh, director of FIU’s Robotics and Digital Fabrication lab, in the release.

AI is at an inflection point in the construction industry, particularly as the broader public and workforce reckons with its capabilities. ChatGPT, OpenAI’s tool that can be accessed by anyone with an internet connection, can perform tasks ranging from coding to writing resumes. In the construction industry, firms like Togal.AI and Field Materials are leveraging AI to automate estimation plans and improve the material procurement process.

Patrick Murphy, CEO of Togal.AI, emphasized the unpredictability of machines and algorithms, and advised that people keep an open mind about the tech, but proceed with caution.

“I don’t think any human living today knows the extent of what they’re capable of. And that’s certainly true for construction,” Murphy told Construction Dive.

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