Civil engineering construction work has always been accompanied by a high proportion of tasks that are either dangerous or unpleasant or both. Enhancing the general working environment and boosting safety levels are critical issues for the industry. Meanwhile, the industry has been slow to embrace IT, and there is substantial scope for the use of technology to boost efficiency, cut costs and improve quality levels in construction. In a bid to address this issue, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport launched a five-year project in FY2003 entitled Development of Construction Robots and Associated IT Systems. This paper reports on the research and development work carried out by the authors in connection with the project. The project developed a three-dimensional space description method for civil engineering execution, which can now be applied to finished work control etc. and used by construction machinery. Foundation technologies needed for self-controlled excavation and loading by a hydraulic excavator have been developed and verified to the level that, under basic conditions, they have attained speed and precision equal to that by a human operator.