Company Combines CAD, Lasers & Robotics to Build Better Buildings

A problem that has plagued the construction industry for years is the technology gap between building engineers who work on construction sites and the architects who design the plans used to put up a building.

Theometrics is working to bridge that gap through automation. It has created a digital layout and robotic system for taking architectural measurements and plans and applying them accurately to a construction site.

The New York company says it is pioneering the field of "architectural navigation." Its system uses tablets equipped with CAD and lasers to map out a construction site in much the same way GPS does.

Sam Stathis, the founder and CEO of Theometrics, is an electrical engineer and contractor with 32 years of experience. He has witnessed firsthand the need to automate the construction industry to eliminate mistakes caused by faulty measurements.

"With conventional methods, it's nearly impossible to get the type of accuracy we can with laser equipment," Stathis told us. "The bigger problem also is I would have to rely on my predecessor's work. If there was a mistake made, you never knew who made the mistake, and oftentimes, even if I was accurate, I would be using an inaccurate benchmark."

The inherent problem that creates errors and costs the construction industry billions of dollars every year is that, even though architects and designers use CAD and computer systems to design buildings and take their measurements, those on site during the construction process use an archaic method of string and tape measures to measure points located on architect drawings.

Vincent Frasca, vice president at Theometrics, told us that, to automate this process, his company has repurposed technology from a surveying instrument called a total station to measure distance with a laser.

The technology, which the company calls a master station, can use CAD via a tablet to point to sites in a construction environment with a laser, take measurements, and draw line work in CAD. "You select a coordinate in CAD -- an end point, midpoint, point on a curve, it doesn't matter," Frasca said. "The instrument will turn and point a visible laser right to that spot and transposes the accuracy of CAD to real life with no paper step or tape measure."

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