Robots scale new heights to build Dubai's latest high-rise

Rise robot's Swiss developer to play a central role in many Expo 2020 pavilions

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Construction robots being used for the first time in the Middle East are helping to speed up the latest addition to Jumeirah Lakes Towers' vast skyline.

The 78-floor Uptown Tower is to be finished by February next year and will include 200 luxury hotel rooms and suites plus conference facilities, restaurants, shops and a health spa.

The 340-metre glass tower being built by Belgium's Besix Group is being developed with a difference, using advanced robotics made by a Swiss company that is set to feature heavily at Expo 2020 Dubai.

Our workforce is exposed to a hot, dusty and noisy environment, so this robotic process eliminates that
Urs Puentener, Schindler Group

Since January, an autonomous robot has scaled each floor to drill thousands of holes while inserting guide-rail bolts and landing doors for the building’s lift shaft.

The Swiss-made Schindler Robotic Installation System for Elevators, or Rise, has saved hundreds of man-hours and helped to relieve the stress of a difficult working environment, according to Urs Puentener, the company's head of global fulfilment.

“This lift project [in Dubai] is one of our iconic installations,” Mr Puentener said.

“It is a strong innovation for the construction industry, with this robotic system applied to this phase of the development for the first time in the region.

“It allows us to take autonomous installation steps of the build by a robot, rather than conventional manual drilling and labour.”

There are 9,000 holes to be drilled for 14 elevators, with the manual work being taken over by the Rise robot.

Installation is usually done by hand and can be dangerous, uncomfortable and time consuming in the 45°C heat of the Dubai summer.

“Our workforce is exposed to a hot, dusty and noisy environment, so this robotic process eliminates that,” Mr Puentener said.

“The robotic system addresses not only health and safety but also the quality of installation due to the robot’s precision.

“It is also more efficient and faster. Obviously, the higher the building, the more work is required, so the use of the robot becomes more beneficial.”

Once complete, the Uptown Dubai District will offer 10 million square feet of residential and business space, complete with 200 shops and restaurants.

Uptown Dubai is expected to create about 10,000 new jobs over the next decade.

Uptown Tower is one of two super-tall buildings that will include a main podium 28 metres above ground featuring a two-level central plaza, larger than New York's Times Square. This will be linked to numerous outlets and a retail mall.

Schindler Group is one of Switzerland’s success stories in innovation and construction, installing escalators and elevators across the world, including those at Dubai Mall.

Although the Rise robot has already been used for projects in Poland, Austria, Switzerland and Germany, Uptown Tower is the first build in the Middle East to benefit from the technology.

The company is set to feature heavily during Expo 2020, with its so-called mountain trains taking visitors to the Swiss pavilion on an escalator journey with 360-degree drone footage and graphics.

Pavilions run by the UAE, India, Brazil, Belgium, France and the UK are also using equipment and technology installed by the Swiss company.

Updated: September 13, 2021, 3:17 AM