History of IAARC

The growing interest shown internationally towards the end of the 1980’s in Automation and Robotics in Construction (ARC) led to the formation of IAARC in 1990. By then a number of international symposia had already been convened and the creation of IAARC satisfied the demand for an umbrella organization.

IAARC is a global community with specific interest in all fields of construction including civil and building engineering, machine automation, robotics applications to construction, information technologies, planning, logistics, etc. IAARC’s membership is not just restricted to end-users, manufacturers and researchers, but welcomes participation from other industrial sectors and from government organisations.

The annual symposium of IAARC, called the International Symposium on Automation and Robotics in Construction (ISARC), hosted in numerous countries worldwide, have yielded diverse refereed papers that have been published in proceedings. Together these form a compelling illustration of how developments in automation and robotics in construction continue to progress towards use in practice. ISARCs provide the major platform for delegates from all continents to exchange information and establish collaborations.

The first ISARC was held in Pittsburgh, Pennsyvania, U.S.A., where speakers made all the presentations from only three nations:  Finland, Japan and the United States of America. In 1984, this event, organized by Carnegie-Mellon University had a workshop structure, and it was called ‘Robotics in Construction’. Both the first and second symposia were held as a workshop in Pittsburgh. This is how ISARC was born.

The first ISARC in the form of a symposium was held in 1986 in Marseille, France, and it was titled ‘International Joint Conference on CAD and Robotics in Architecture and Construction’. The fourth ISARC was held in Haifa, Israel and was titled ‘International Symposium on Robotics and Artificial Intelligence in Building Construction’. The fifth ISARC was held in Japan, and was titled ‘International Symposium on Robotics in Construction’, where the current form of ISARC was more or less established. At that symposium, automation in construction was extensively discussed. This gave birth to the ISARC as we now know it and thus from the 6th symposium held in San Francisco in 1989, ISARC has continued the same tradition.  The 13th ISARC was held in Tokyo, Japan in 1996 and had 350 delegates from 20 different countries presenting 118 papers.

At the first Workshop Conference, held in Pittsburgh in 1984, Professor Sangrey noted that the scope of robotics applications was defined broadly to include not only mechanical systems, but also computer integrated construction and knowledge-based expert systems. He continued to say, “Robotics in construction represents one of a group of related applications for robotics in unstructured environments. Applications in agriculture, mining, undersea, space, hazardous environments and others are included with construction”.

Over time, IAARC has been responsible for several publications. The 1998 Catalogue on Robots and Automated Machines in Construction (17 MB), for example, was one of its first editions on technical characteristics, features, work execution records and usage conditions of 76 robots from Germany, Japan and Sweden.

In 2009, IAARC and CIB (The International Council for Research and Innovation in Building and Construction) formed a partnership to further promote automation and robotics in construction. For a number of years an IAARC Academy broadened the education on related topics.


In 2016, IAARC had its first student chapter founded at the International University of Florida. Since then, numerous more Student Chapters & Innovation Hubs followed with the intent of motivating the students and industry to focus on themes related to automation and robotics in construction.

Over time, the ISARC program and the number of attendees increased continuously. In Berlin (Germany) in 2018, an international hackathon, technical tours to research laboratories, visits to Berlin construction sites, and the academic-style presentations and social events during the symposium attracted close to 500 participants from industry, academia, and governments.

In 2020 IAARC held for the first time its annual symposium online. Given the travel restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the more than 300 participants that attended demonstrate the high interest in the academic world and the industry on topics related to research and development in automation and robotics of construction.

Over the years, IAARC members and ISARC participants from both academia and industry have contributed to numerous book publications inspiring from groundbreaking ideas to applications in practical use. Some recent examples are: