Hubo Cai wins Alfred Noble Prize for pioneering research in construction technology

Hubo Cai, interim head of the Polytechnic School of Construction Management Technology, won one of the foremost awards in the civil engineering discipline for his research into site location tracking.

Hubo Cai, interim head for the School of Construction Management Technology at Purdue Polytechnic and professor in the College of Engineering, has been awarded the prestigious 2023 Alfred Noble Prize by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). The award recognizes Cai's groundbreaking research on 3D location tracking, enhancing construction site safety.

The Alfred Noble Prize, established in 1929, commemorates the achievements of Alfred Noble, past president of ASCE. It is funded by an endowment from engineers and other individuals to honor Noble's legacy and dedication to the engineering community. The award is a testament to Cai's accomplishments in construction technology and civil engineering.

"Robust Hybrid Approach of Vision-Based Tracking and Radio-Based Identification and Localization for 3D Tracking of Multiple Construction Workers," was coauthored with Jiannan Cai in July 2020. Cai presents a novel framework that combines multi-view camera tracking with radio wave identification. This innovation addresses limitations of other methods and enhances the accuracy of 3D tracking for multiple on-site construction workers.

Cai's research shows that camera and radio integration allows digital systems to know where specific site workers are located at any given moment. This ensures safety on construction sites via better management and increased situational awareness. It can help prevent accidents, especially where workers might be hit by moving objects or vehicles. This innovation seeks to make construction sites safer for every worker.

Hubo Cai.

Cai's hybrid approach treats visual tracking from cameras as a primary source to determine object locations. Radio signals are used to complement visual data, providing identity information and correcting errors in object detection. Cai’s two indoor experiments showcased an accuracy increase of 88% to 95% and 87% to 90%, compared to a conventional camera-only approach.

"This award is a testament to Dr. Cai's exemplary research and dedication to advancing the field of construction management technology," said Dean Daniel Castro of Purdue Polytechnic. "His groundbreaking work on 3D tracking has significant implications for job site safety and construction management. We are incredibly proud of his achievements and the positive impact his research will have on the industry."

The findings in Cai's paper serve as the foundation for numerous applications in intelligent construction management, hazard identification, resource tracking, productivity analysis and more. Potential applications extend beyond construction to include smart building management, autonomous driving, robot navigation, human-robot collaboration, teleoperation and remote control of robots.

The Alfred Noble Prize award ceremony will take place during the American Society of Engineers' Annual Convention in Chicago on October 18 to 21, 2023. Purdue Polytechnic extends heartfelt congratulations to Cai and looks forward to the continued impact of his research on the construction industry and beyond.


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