3 RC Construction Equipment Tech Trends That Are Popular Now

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Remote control (RC) products used to be nothing more than a novelty toy.

Remember that super expensive toy boat you could get that was incredibly fun to play with, but had a six-minute battery life and took hours to recharge? The still sell those, by the way.

RC technology has come a long way in the last few decades, and the construction industry has really embraced it. And it’s come at a good time, as the industry is desperately in need of better digital technology: Large projects take 20% longer on average to finish than scheduled, and cost 80% more than the original budget, so the industry can clearly benefit from new ways of doing things.

Advantages of RC equipment for the construction industry

And it’s easy to see why remote control technology is such a good fit for construction; there are multiple benefits. Advantages of RC equipment include improved safety for workers who no longer have to venture into dangerous areas and better efficiency. And, it often works with your construction management software to make your life easier in general.

Affordability is always a concern for small businesses, but the beauty of many of these products is that they only require a software add-on when used with existing equipment.

In addition, new equipment is much smaller and more affordable than the larger vehicles and tools you’re likely using right now—and those also require you to pay someone to drive them.

Below, we’ll take a look at three of the most heavily discussed types of products when it comes to robotics and automation in construction.

1. Drones

DroneDeploy software in action surveying a piece of land (Source: DroneDeploy)

As Fortune puts it, “The construction industry is in love with drones.”

Analysts believe the commercial drone industry will top $5 billion by 2020, according to Fortune, and the current value of labor and services that could be replaced by drones is a staggering $127.3 billion.

It’s a hot market for drone producers, as well as for companies that design software that can turn ordinary drones into construction site workhorses.

Why they’re popular

Because improving efficiency is one of the best ways to boost profit margin in the construction industry, drones are an attractive option for construction managers looking for any advantage they can find in terms of productivity. Think about it: instead of having a bunch of your employees drag surveying equipment everywhere, you could just send a drone up in the sky to do it for you. That’s a big savings in man-hours.

How you can get your hands on this tech

There are a plethora of companies offering drone technology for construction managers.

For example, DroneDeploy offers drone mapping software for surveying and construction, claiming to save construction managers time and reduce risk with drone maps and 3D models.

DroneDeploy software has technology that conducts surveys using ground control, provides instant measurements of distance, area, and volume, and is compatible with BIM software.

Kespry is another company offering software hosted on drones that collects topographic information and ongoing job site data. Its drones fly autonomously without any piloting required—so there’s no need to have an employee spend his or her day controlling the drone manually—gathering up high resolution aerial images and GPS data that is sent to the cloud to be processed automatically.

2. Demolition robots

DXR-series demolition robots tearing through concrete (Source: Husqvarna)

These machines look like excavators, but they’re smaller and, of course, lack the cab, since they don’t need a human to operate them. They’re compact enough to fit in small spaces and maneuver through doorways, but powerful enough to tear through concrete.

Why they’re popular

Demolishing concrete is hard and potentially dangerous work for your employees, and that’s why demolition robots have become grown in popularity in recent years.

How you can get your hands on this tech

Swedish company Husqvarna Group is one of the leading manufacturers of demolition robots. (The company has come a long way since its first factory opened all the way back in 1689 to manufacture rifles.) In 2009, it launched its first remote control demolition robot.

Husqvarna has been busy with its DXR series of remote control demolition robots, which focus on high power, low weight, and a “functional” design. The machines are meant to be compact enough to maneuver through tight spaces, and long-reaching enough to get at hard to access places.

Another major player in the market is Brokk—also a Swedish company—which has been selling machines in North America since 1983. The company offers ten models of remote control demolition robots, ranging from the tiny Brokk 60″ to the hulking Brokk 800 P.

3. Remote control loaders

An employee commands a loader from afar ( Source: Bobcat)

Loaders might not seem like an obvious choice for remote control, but this has been another significant trend in the industry. Remote control has made hauling huge amounts of material with loaders a lot easier in recent years.

Why they’re popular

With this technology, operators are able to control the machines from as far away as 1,000 feet, which is ideal for construction managers trying to move potentially hazardous materials, or operating in unsafe environments.

How you can get your hands on this tech

Lots of big players in the loader market are taking advantage of the technology.

In November 2015, construction equipment behemoth Caterpillar announced the introduction of the RemoteTask remote control system for Cat D Series skid steer, multiterrain and compact track loaders.

But, you don’t have to buy a special Caterpillar vehicle to use this tech; Cat dealers can install the RemoteTask system on any machine in about an hour, the company says, allowing you to switch between manual and remote modes.

Bobcat, another big player when it comes to track loaders, also offers a remote control operation allowing you to control a loader from outside the cab. It’s a radio remote control system that can be installed or removed in minutes and works with multiple machines that are equipped with Selectable Joystick Controls. Bobcat claims it eliminates the need for two-person operations on attachments such as planers and wheel saws, accomplishing the same work with just one person.

Several other loader manufacturers are jumping on board as well. Virginia-based Luck Stone introduced a remote control system a few years ago that can be integrated into its Cat 988G wheel loaders. And you can find a host of other models all over the international market.

What do you think is in the construction industry’s future?

We’ve listed three remote control product categories that are already having a big impact on the construction industry, but we know there are plenty more examples out there.

Do you agree that these are the most popular? Or are there some products we’ve left off?

Have you seen some of these products in action and have some insight on what kind of advantages (or disadvantages) they have? Please let us know in the comments below.

Looking for software? Check out Capterra's list of the best software solutions.

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About the Author


Dan Taylor

Dan is a content writer at Capterra, specializing in hotel management, construction and real estate. Outside the office, he enjoys spending time with his family and friends, catching up with the latest offering from HBO or paying a visit to a new place.



Drilling rigs are another interesting application. They allow the operator to steer clear of a potential collapsed excavation while soil nails are being installed.


The technology won’t be limited to the manufacturers. I know two highway contractors that are working with outside partners to innovate new robotic technologies. The truth is that contractors have always innovated new products and techniques to get the the job done more efficiently. The only thing that’s changed is that the technology is more sophisticated these days.

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