Synthetic intelligence and 3D laser scanning for MEP purposes

In this article, FARO Technologies examines the value of artificial intelligence and 3D laser scanning for MEP applications

In 2011, artificial intelligence had a big “aha” moment when IBM’s question-and-answer computer Watson stunned the world by comfortably defeating its human challengers on popular American quiz show Jeopardy!

Part publicity stunt, part proving ground, Watson remains a proper noun synonymous with artificial intelligence in 2023 — even if some of the supercomputer’s shine has faded.

Today, other companies like Amazon, Microsoft, Boston Dynamics, and Google are ahead in the AI ​​race. And in November, San Francisco-based OpenAI, an AI research and deployment company, garnered global attention with ChatGPT, the company’s natural-language online chatbot.

That said, while AI is by no means omniscient, it is clear that the technology is advancing rapidly. And it’s a technology that’s catching on in everyday life. This is especially true when AI systems are combined in the near future with already established technologies such as 3D laser scanning for mechanical, electrical and plumbing applications, the indispensable innards of every building, new or retrofitted.

Intelligent entrance, intelligent exit

What many, of course, fail to appreciate is that artificial intelligence is still largely only as good as the quality of the data being fed into the system, either by human operators or by some other technology collecting and organizing the data, such as 3D laser scanners and cloud-based SaaS data platforms.

In other words, artificial intelligence has yet to fully master what computing pioneer JCR Licklider called “formulative thinking,” or the technology’s ability to think beyond strict programming. But this is where humans and 3D laser scanning can help.

artificial intelligence Faro Technologies

For MEP professionals, whether building something new or completing a building transformation for repurposing, improvement or maintenance, the success and timing of an entire project depends on accurate and comprehensive site data. Any inaccuracies or conflicts in MEP installation can lead to unnecessary rework, higher costs and a subpar end result.

3D capture technology ensures MEP designs are accurate and that HVAC piping and tubing easily fit into tight spaces with tight tolerances. Even in more open spaces such as technical rooms, the same advantages apply. It is only when this data is collected and shared that sophisticated AI software as it is currently being developed can do its job.

The advantages of 3D laser scanning

Working with 3D laser scanning hardware and software solutions as a necessary first step for MEP applications offers many benefits including:

  • Faster Installation Verification: Rather than relying on cumbersome manual measurements, 3D reality capture devices verify the built environment (including MEP) with greater accuracy and in a fraction of the time, while the accompanying software makes it easy to convert raw point cloud data into tangible, actionable information.
  • Improved comparison between as-built and BIM: With 3D laser scanning and design software, you can compare the installation of the above MEP components with the BIM output and identify the exact MEP placement.
  • Simplify data organization and project collaboration: Reduce the risk of miscommunication or misunderstandings with more advanced collaboration tools. The technology increasingly enables the secure exchange of all data with project participants from anywhere in the world. Instead of explaining critical details through multiple communication channels, a centralized exchange of information is crucial.
  • More Accurate Retrofit/Rebuild Projects: Most retrofits start the same way: you determine how much you can actually trust the original design documentation. Today’s modern point cloud and data processing eliminates this potential weak point. With an accuracy of 2mm to 5mm, the latest scan-to-BIM technology ensures a 3D rendering of what is actually there.

All in for AI

Once you’ve collected, organized, and shared all that accurate 3D data, what’s next? Where does AI fit in?

AI for MEP can be useful in two ways. The first serves as a means of data sorting and pattern recognition. Every MEP system is inevitably structured differently. But what if a design or set of designs is superior: more energy efficient, for example, since less piping is required? AI has the potential to review thousands of MEP projects in near real time and identify the best/most energy efficient solutions. Beyond environmental friendliness, AI can also be used to determine other considerations such as economics and strategic execution.

The second way to use AI for MEP applications is in project management. AI can monitor, collect, control, rate, and manage energy consumption in relation to MEP requirements across an entire building or set of buildings. AI can also be useful in the long-term planning of energy management systems, of which MEP is an integral part. According to at least one New York-based engineering firm, it can also “analyze processes that drive decision-making about what changes to make to the MEP design and predict problems only to provide tailored solutions to them.” .

The end result is that a successful MEP installation will benefit from the near-term unification of AI, 3D laser scanning and the all-important human component working together: 3D scanning and human operators to input/provide data and AI to assist in the Identify improved efficiencies and inform long-term energy system management.

In the not too distant future, however, when artificial intelligence enters new avenues of analysis and communication, natural language computers like Watson and online bots like ChatGPT and other AI algorithms currently under development will seem increasingly antiquated. The AI ​​of tomorrow could far exceed our wildest expectations.

Or as ChatGPT explains it: “AI will evolve as technology advances and becomes more widespread. Therefore, it is important to actively consider and address possible impacts through research, regulation and ethical guidelines.”

In this point, humans and AI are perfectly matched.

Amanda Hidalgo

Corporate Communications Office

FARO Technologies

Tel: +1 700 161 1036




*Please note: This is a commercial profile.

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