Use of Motion Sensors and Artificial Intelligence to Improve Work Skills in Bricklaying

Scientists from the University of Waterloo have devised new ways to use artificial intelligence (AI) to assist in minimizing wear-and-tear injuries and to enhance the productivity of skilled construction laborers.

Research adopting AI software and motion sensors have shown that expert bricklayers adopt hitherto unknown methods to restrict the loads on their joints, an understanding that can at present be used to train apprentices in training programs.

The people in skilled trades learn or acquire a kind of physical wisdom that they can’t even articulate, it’s pretty amazing and pretty important.

Carl Haas, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Waterloo.

Astonishingly, the study indicates that master masons do not adopt the usual ergonomic rules taught to apprentices. In contrast, they form their own techniques of working swiftly with safety.

For instance, they swing the blocks more instead of lifting them and bend their backs less.

They’re basically doing the work twice as fast with half the effort – and they’re doing it with higher quality, it’s really intriguing.

Carl Haas, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Waterloo.

Haas, headed the study along with Eihab Abdel-Rahman, a systems design engineering professor at Waterloo.

As part of their first research, the team evaluated data from bricklayers with a range of experience levels, wearing sensor suits when they constructed a wall using concrete blocks. The data indicated that masters exert lesser stress on their torsos in spite of doing considerably more work.

A follow-up research was performed to ascertain the way experts work very efficiently. The study used sensors to record their motion and AI computer programs for recognizing body position patterns.

The team now aims to perform in-depth investigation of the way the master masons move while working.

Skilled masons work in ways we can show are safer, but we don’t quite understand yet how they manage to do that,” stated Hass, who compared their skill with that of a professional golfer. “Now we need to understand the dynamics.”

An important area of concern in bricklaying is musculoskeletal injuries, which makes many apprentices to discontinue work and renders a number of experienced laborers to deteriorate too early.

As part of their study, the scientists are at present creating a system that includes sensor suits to provide instant feedback to trainees so that they can change their movements to minimize stress on their bodies.

There is an unseen problem with craft workers who are just wearing out their bodies,” he stated. “It’s not humane and it’s not good for our economy for skilled tradespeople to be done when they’re 50.”

A research on using AI to investigate bricklayer body positions was reported recently in the Automation in Construction journal.

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