Balfour Beatty is expecting construction to become a hands-off operation, at least where humans are concerned. Among the predictions outlined in its new paper, “Innovation 2050: A Digital Future for the Infrastructure Industry,” is that construction sites will be human-free within the next 30 years.

Robots are already in use on the jobsite, filling roles from overhead photography and surveying to worker and equipment tracking, and even site access and security. According to the paper, technology on the horizon includes teams of remotely controlled machines that can work together efficiently. Other technologies poised to transform infrastructure, some of which are already in use, include drones, sensors and IoT-powered buildings with novel materials that can improve safety and speed up repairs, or even repair themselves.

All that change requires new skills, such as the ability to manage high-tech equipment and software, to become part of future construction crews. Cloud-based workflow management systems stand to improve efficiency, but also raise concerns around interoperability and security.