Virtual and augmented reality technology aims to reduce costs and waste, and boost productivty

VR on Crossrail

A consortium supported by Laing O’Rourke and Aecom has secured £1m of funding from Innovate UK to develop the use of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) for construction.

The group, led by visualisation company Soluis, is developing an augmented worker system which aims to bring greater certainty, safety, efficiency and sustainability in to the industry.

The system will use AR and VR to improve the construction process across five key areas - collaborative design, job guidance, progress monitoring, safety guidance and asset management - and will complement BIM, said Soluis.

The group is targeting a 25% reduction in cost, 25% reduction in waste, and increased productivity of 30% for projects.

The consortium will be supported by a steering group, which includes Aecom, Laing O’Rourke, engineer Doosan Babcock, and software houses Autodesk and Microsoft.

Other partners in the group include Pinnacle Business Solutions, an information systems consultancy, Carbon Dynamic, a modular timber company, and the University of Sheffield’s Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre.

David Philp, BIM director at Aecom, said “Construction technology is reshaping how we deliver and maintain our built assets, it is increasingly helping us place digital information into the real world in the right context, supporting and augmenting the decision-making process.

“Real time access to individualised data, analytics and instructions during the construction and operational stages will greatly improve productivity, quality and also help worker well-being. Creating a framework and guidance around the augmented worker is critically important if we are to successfully unlock this value proposition.”

Business Secretary Greg Clark said: “Research and innovation are at the heart of the government’s vision for a modern Industrial Strategy. The adoption of cutting-edge virtual and augmented reality technology in industries like construction will be vital in helping us identify new, smarter ways of working.

“This government-backed initiative will help build the UK’s reputation and expertise in the pioneering use of this technology, while helping make construction projects of the future more efficient, cost effective and productive.”