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As part of the Cybersecurity Awareness Week 2022 (CSAW'22 MENA), the S.M.A.R.T. Construction Research Group, in collaboration with the Center for Cyber Security (CCS-AD) and the Center for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics (CAIR), organized the first edition of the Hack My Robot (HMR) competition. 16 students in four teams from the MENA region participated in the challange. 

Thanks to the judges: Ebrahim Hamed - Aldar - Vice president of digitalization and innovation; Nader Kayali - Accuracy - Senior Associate; Sabyasachi Jana - ALEC - Innovation Specialist; Daniel Feliu-Talegon - Khalifa University; Christoforos Vasilatos - NYUAD - CCSAD

...and big congrats to the winning teams!

First place: SENTRY TEAM (from KAUST): Ioannis (Yannis) Zografopoulos, Alyah Alfageh, Li Zhou, Shijie Pan.

Second place: YASTA TEAM (from NYUAD) Abdullah Alhasni, Salman E., Youssab William, and Omar Mostafa.

Interested in participating next year? More info about this year's edition here:

First UAE Construction Research Gathering at NYUAD

The S.M.A.R.T. Construction Research Group organized the first UAE Construction Research Gathering (CRG2023) at New York University Abu Dhabi. The main goal of the CRG is for researchers in the UAE working in the area of automation and robotics in construction to meet and have informal discussions about their ongoing research. We had the luxury of having Prof. Miroslaw Skibniesky joining the first edition of CRG. Thank you, Mirek, for all the insights and suggestions provided to the postdocs and Ph.D. students! It is expected that the 'Construction Research Gathering' will be done every year to strengthen the relationships and stay up to date with research in the area of automation and robotics in construction being developed in the UAE.

Dr. Garcia de Soto appointed as General Secretary of IAARC

Borja has been appointed the General Secretary for the International Association for Automation and Robotics in Construction (IAARC). IAARC is considered the premier global organization dedicated to the advancement of Automation and Robotics in Construction. It represents fields of construction, including civil and building engineering, machine automation, robotics applications to construction, information technologies, planning, logistics, and more. More information about IAARC can be found here.

Testing our robots with ALEC

In early December 2021, we had the opportunity to test our robotic systems in one of ALEC's projects in Abu Dhabi. Thanks to Imad Itani, the Innovation Manager at ALEC, for making this possible.

Using our robots in real construction sites makes a big difference when testing and fine-tuning the navigation and localization algorithms. Researchers from the S.M.A.R.T. Construction Research Group were able to identify some of the challenges when moving the robots from the lab to real construction sites. Ongoing work on the automation of data collection and progress monitoring during the construction phase is being conducted by Dr. Samuel Prieto, Eyob Mengiste, Xinghui Xu, Nas Gopee, and Prof. Borja Garcia de Soto. In addition, Dr. Nikolaos Giakoumidis, the Instrumentation Research Specialist from the Kinesis CTP at NYUAD, is collaborating on this project.

ISARC 2021 in the UAE

The S.M.A.R.T. Construction Research Group will participate in the 38th International Symposium on Automation and Robotics in Construction (ISARC) in Dubai from 2nd to 5th November 2021. This is the first time that ISARC comes to the middle east and the United Arab Emirates will host ISARC in Dubai. 

Researchers from the S.M.A.R.T. Construction Research Group have contributed to ten peer-reviewed conference papers. Several papers are authored by undergraduate and graduate students from NYUAD. Also, some papers have been done in collaboration with industry (ALEC and Hilti) and researchers from other universities (University of Sharjah, Northumbria University, Polytechnic University of Marche).

Information about ISARC 2021 can be found here.

The S.M.A.R.T. Team wins at SciRoc

The S.M.A.R.T. Team was the winning team of Episode 1 (simulation) at the second edition of the Smart City Robotics Challenge (SciRoc) that took place from the 6th – 10th September 2021 in Bologna, Italy. The team participants included Pi Ko, Muhammad Anas (Nas) Gopee, Yaman Garg, Xinghui Xu, Samuel A. Prieto, Nikolaos Giakoumidis, and Borja García de Soto. 

The robot utilizes ROS, and runs in Gazebo. It is able to navigate autonomously throughout the coffee shops, detect and recognize humans and food items, and interact with human customers through speech recognition. The robot uses the latest and most efficient algorithms to perform its tasks, such as PocketSphinx for speech recognition and YOLOv5 for object detection. You can check out the simulation here.

14 teams, from various universities around the world participated in the entire SciRoc competition. Congrats to the winning teams!

Game engines to support industrialized construction

Industrialized Construction is emerging as a disruptive force in the construction industry. The work by PhD student Ali Ezzeddine and Prof. Borja García de Soto about the use of game engine technology to connecting construction teams has been published in Automation in Construction. 

Their study demonstrates how game engine technology can enhance coordination and collaboration in modular construction projects. The authors developed a digital platform to connect all teams involved. This study shows that game engines provide a rapid and cost-effective tool for developing digital solutions for modular construction projects. Feedback from industry professionals highlighted the benefits of using such game engine-based tools in projects which opens up future investigations on the practical use of game engines in other aspects of construction. You can read the paper here.

Professor delivers keynote address at Abu Dhabi conference
Professor Borja Garcia de Soto delivered a keynote lecture titled “Towards an Innovative and Productive Construction Industry” at the 2nd International Conference in Architecture, Engineering, Construction and Project Management, where he highlighted some of the current research of the S.M.A.R.T. Construction Research Group, led by him. 
February 5, 2019

Construction Technology Festival – Online

Dr. Garcia de Soto was part of the panel for "Big data issues in construction: Security, Integrity, and Ownership" during the CONSTRUCTION TECHNOLOGY FESTIVAL on 21 October. The panel was moderated by Prakash Senghani, Director Digital Delivery, JLL. Other panelists included: Sultan Moraished, Chief Information Security Officer Cyber Security, The Red Sea Development Company; Paul Shillcock, Author of ISO 19650-2 and the UK National Annex, Managing Director, Operam; Muks H, Technical Director, CrowdStrike. Great topics and extraordinary speakers. The complete agenda can be found here.

Cyber Security in relation to Construction 4.0

The European Network of Construction Companies for Research and Development (ENCORD) had its 2nd (Virtual) Council Meeting on 14 September 2020. The focus of the meeting was on “Cyber Security in relation to Construction 4.0”. Guest panel speakers (Mrs. Rositsa Georgieva, Programme Officer, EU Policies at the European Commission; Mr. Ian Hill, Global Director of Cyber Security, Royal BAM Group; Mr. Juan Cobo, CISO, Ferrovial; Mr. Prof. Borja García de Soto, Assistant Professor, NYU Abu Dhabi) and IT/Cybersecurity experts from ENCORD members had an opportunity to meet and exchange ideas about such an important topic. Founded in 1989, ENCORD has become a major network in the construction sector. More information about ENCORD can be found here.

Construction 4.0: An Innovation Platform for the Built Environment

Researchers in the S.M.A.R.T. Construction Research Group contributed in the creation of the Construction 4.0 Handbook edited by Anil Sawhney, Michael Riley, and Javier Irizarry.

Chapter 15: Future of robotics and automation in construction (by Borja Garcia de Soto, and Miroslaw J. Skibniewski)

Chapter 16: Robots in indoor and outdoor environments (by Bharadwaj R. K. Mantha, Borja Garcia de Soto, Carol C. Menassa, and Vineet R. Kamat)

Chapter 22: Cyber threats and actors confronting the Construction 4.0 (by Erika A. Pärn, and Borja Garcia de Soto)

1st Workshop on Cybersecurity Implications of Construction 4.0 (CIC-2020)

The S.M.A.R.T. Construction Research Group hosted a workshop on February 2nd and 3rd to discuss the cybersecurity implications to the architecture, engineering, construction, and facility management (AECFM) industry caused by Construction 4.0 (i.e., the digitalization and automation of the construction sector). The ultimate goal will be to define a research agenda to address the cybersecurity implications of Construction 4.0.

Borja Garcia de Soto named to exclusive board

The International Association for Automation and Robotics in Construction (IAARC) is the premier global organization dedicated to the advancement of Automation and Robotics in Construction. As a member of the BOD, Borja's research will promote automation and robotics in construction through partnerships with industry, academia, and government organizations in the United Arab Emirates and internationally. More information about IAARC can be found here.

“Out of Labs” exhibition during the Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week (ADSW)

Min Kyu Jung (BSc student, NYU Abu Dhabi) and Dr. Bharadwaj Mantha (Post-Doctoral Researcher, NYU Abu Dhabi) presented a prototype that is capable of navigating through a building to gather information to monitor the performance of buildings. Part of the work for this project was also conducted by Yiming Huang (BSc student, NYU Shanghai) during her visiting undergraduate studies at NYUAD in Fall 2019. 

Dr. Garcia de Soto's interview featured in Design & Build Review

Design & Build Review, Issue 53, December 2019. The Future of Robotic Construction: A Solution to the Industry’s Most Pressing Issues? More info:

Dr. Garcia de Soto's interview featured in Design & Build Review

Design & Build Review, Issue 50, June 2019. Architecture’s robot revolution: pioneering robotic construction. More info here.

Construction industry’s long-overdue shift to digital raises threat of cyber attacks

As more and more activities are conducted in the digital realm, some industries, such as banking, have made strides to reduce the risks that come with doing business online. The architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) industry has been slow to adapt to the digital world. But the shift is now happening, and it’s time to prepare for the impact this transformation will have on the industry (June 2019).