Japan has a labor shortage, partially because the workforce is aging. Last year they passed new legislation to attract foreign workers — a controversial bill, given the nation’s historically strict immigration policies. But the construction contractor Obayashi is taking the matter into their own hands, by automating the workforce — with construction robotics.
This year, the company broke ground on a concrete dam built entirely by construction robots. While there will be some human supervisors, every stage of the construction process will involve robots taking over jobs with automation technology.
Besides building a single dam, their goal is to test whether or not a fleet of robots can accomplish such a feat without the sweat labor of humans, according to Nikkei Asian Review.
The project site is in the south-east corner of Japan’s main island, in the Mie Prefecture. Dams are commonly built away from populated areas, making them ideal projects to test the effectiveness of automated robots taking over jobs that may be risky to passersby. Even though robots will build the dam, employees don’t need to worry about robots taking over jobs, for now. The project still needs the same amount of laborers on-site, although this test could prove that a smaller crew could handle future dam projects.
Obayashi isn’t the only Japanese company building construction robots. Kajima has created self-driving dump trucks and bulldozers to keep operations running all day, and some companies are trying to develop robots before their workforce retires.