The World Economic Forum recently announced robots are set to nab 5.1 million jobs by 2020, and Oxford University predicts 47 percent of U.S. jobs could be automated within the next two decades. Yet, only 4.8 percent of AEC professionals surveyed by ARC Document Solutions predict robots will replace workers in the future. Instead, they are focused on emerging technologies such as big data, drones and the Internet of Things (IoT). 

Specifically, 65.3 percent of the 147 survey respondents believe virtual reality applications will be used much more in the future—noting the benefits of easier visualization, faster completion, and the need for fewer workers and materials. 

Sixty-four percent of respondents state drones are likely to be common within the next five to 10 years, and 57.8 percent predict design and development will become paperless in the next two to five years. 

Meanwhile, AEC professionals expect the IoT to improve equipment management, give clear indicators of a project delay and pinpoint the reason behind a delay. And they believe big data has the potential to facilitate well-informed decision-making on a consistent basis and improve urban planning decisions.