Toward Autonomous and Robotic Infrastructure Construction: A Workshop and Field Studies of Productivity, Quality, and Safety Impacts

Project Investigator

David White

Project Schedule

Jul 2014 to Jun 2016


Caterpillar, Iowa State University, USDOT/OST-R


automated manufacturing, autonomous process control, earthwork construction, excavation technology, haul-truck cycle time, MAP-21, robots

Project Description

Constructing long-lasting roadway infrastructure requires careful process control. It is well known in industry that an in situ manufacturing process governed solely by human operators introduces inefficiencies, variable quality results, and site safety risks. Autonomous and robotic controls of the road building process have great potential to reduce these problems. Unfortunately, roadway construction has virtually no theory established for process control. What is called for is an academic-industry partnership to study and analyze the impacts of productivity, quality, and safety for roadway construction that can quantify and prioritize the formulation of a process control theory to address this need. This project funds three important efforts: (1) A nationwide stakeholder conference to identify gaps and opportunities for autonomous and robotics roadway construction technologies (2) Selected field studies focused on earthwork and excavation technologies (3) A technology transfer program to improve understanding and beneficial implementation The results of this study are directly related to the State of Good Repair, a key program under MAP-21, and the Midwest Transportation Center (MTC) focus area of project construction, because autonomous and robotic systems impact productivity, quality, and safety of roadway infrastructure.