Beijing on track to digitizing construction space with more robotics and tech

Citywide, PetroChina's new R&D center is a microcosm of a digital and automation shift unfolding in the Chinese capital's construction sector.

Beijing has embarked on an ambitious campaign to promote the use of smart construction technologies, including robotics, to enhance the efficiency of the city’s infrastructure drive.

One of the city’s pilot projects is the R&D center of PetroChina’s petroleum exploration and development arm, affiliated with the state-owned refining giant.

Among the technologies used to build the center, currently under construction, are BIM (building information modeling), real-time dynamic mapping and at least seven types of construction robots.

The center comprises three skyscrapers, one of which has adopted multiple mobile robots to lay the ceramic tiles on the floors.

According to Chinese media reports, several wheeled robots were seen moving about the hall on the first floor, lifting tiles and placing them at the designated spots.

“The position repeatability of the robotic arm is 0.03 mm,” said a worker tasked with operating the robot. “It can clutch and lay all kinds of ceramic tiles.”

Operators can even guide the robot to complete tasks remotely. It is reported that the robotic tile-layer is four times as efficient as a human worker.

“The walls and ceilings of this building were all spray-painted by the robot,” said Li Fei, a project managing overseeing the construction.

He added that the device is able to paint 25 sqm of walls within about 20 minutes, with the paint spread more evenly.

The building is part of a trio of high rises that will cover an entire floor space of 115,900 sqm and house R&D facilities, office space and conference rooms when completed. Delivery is scheduled for July 2024.

Li, the project manager, said it is rare for a construction site of this size to adopt robotics on a massive scale.

Citywide, PetroChina’s new R&D center is a microcosm of a digital and automation shift unfolding in the Chinese capital’s construction sector.

As of the first quarter of this year, Beijing had 1,500 ongoing construction projects that had applied BIM, digital solutions and robotics, 952 more than in 2021.

These technology-powered construction sites accounted for 47% of the total across the city.

Beijing’s municipal commission of housing and urban-rural development said earlier that it will roll out rewards such as bonus points to encourage more constructors to deploy cutting-edge technologies in their day-to-day operation.

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Ni Tao

Ni Tao is the founder and editor-in-chief of cnrobopedia. Prior to cnrobopedia, he had a full decade of experience with a major state-run English-language newspaper as a tech reporter and opinion writer. He is also a communications specialist, having provided consultancy services to established firms like Siemens, Philips, ABinBev, Diageo, Group (Nasdaq: TCOM, HK: 9961), Jianpu Technology (NYSE: JT) and a handful of domestic startups. A graduate of Fudan University, he writes widely about China's business and tech scenes and other topics for global publications including South China Morning Post, SupChina, The Diplomat, CGTN, Banking Technology, among others, and tries to impart his experience to students at Fudan University Journalism School, where he is a part-time lecturer. When he's not writing about robotics, you can expect him to be on his beloved Yanagisawa saxophones, trying to play some jazz riffs, often in vain and occasionally against the protests of an angry neighbor. Get in touch with him by dropping a line at

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