Study shows construction firms ‘embracing autonomous tech at unprecedented rates’

By Catrin Jones and Jenny LescohierApril 12, 2023

54% of survey respondents say they plan to spend between $5 and $15M ($7.1M on average) on autonomous technology in the next three years (Photo: AdobeStock)

A new study by tech company Hexagon has found that 84% of technology decision-makers at general contracting firms across North America, the UK and Australia have adopted some form of autonomous technology in the last year to address key business challenges.

This is according to Hexagon’s Autonomous Construction Tech Outlook, which is based on input from over 1,000 senior executives.

Additionally, 79% of respondents said they will be investing more in autonomous (or automated) technology, with 54% planning to spend between $5 and $15M ($7.1M on average) in the next three years.

Hexagon’s study shows that construction firms are turning to technology to help mitigate and manage challenges, many of which have been exacerbated by the economic instability of the past few years. Notably, respondents cited operational issues including supply chain (39%), productivity/efficiency (36%) and labor shortages (35%) as the most pressing challenges near-term, while driving new business/growth (34%) and managing ESG regulations and programs (34%) were ranked as top concerns over the next three to five years.

A total of 81% of global respondents stated that their top three challenges represent a “moderate to significant” bottom-line impact on their business.

Hexagon’s study highlights the significant impact that autonomous technology can have on the construction industry, from improving safety and efficiency to supporting sustainability and profitability.

“Construction firms are turning to autonomous solutions to mitigate risks better and improve the effectiveness of operations, which are both key to overcoming the productivity, sustainability and profitability issues they face every day,” said Thomas Harring, president of Hexagon’s Geosystems division. “Progressive firms, which are adopting autonomous solutions at a faster rate and in more areas of their business than their competitors, know that this technology does a lot more than automate tasks.”

The most popular application of the technology is currently project management, followed closely by workplace safety, quality control, surveying and vehicle operation, the study says.

The study suggests, however, that many firms are struggling to identify the best autonomous or automated technology to address their specific challenges and pain points, indicating a need for greater education and awareness around the technology. The study concludes that the firms that will redefine the industry are those that embrace autonomous technology as part of their core strategy and use it to drive innovation and business resiliency.

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