A software developer in San Francisco has devised a plug-in for building information models, or BIMs, that uses artificial intelligence to check for violations of local building codes.
UpCodes, which launched a free beta version of the program in April, has made its first public release.
Currently, the supported codes are all in the US.
The idea is to "spell check" a BIM model. According to UpCodes, the beta product identifies an average of 27 violations per project.
The plug-in uses natural language processing, which helps computers work with the unstructured data found in building code documents.
The program searches through a model and if the AI spots a potential violation, it offers a summary, a non-technical overview and a quote from the text of the relevant code document.
The start-up is promoting its product by pointing out that building codes are often complex, and designers and engineers may not by aware of every change that is made to them.
Scott Reynolds, the company’s chief executive, told the TechCrunch website that the idea was to allow architects and engineers to be creative without worrying about whether their ideas would comply with regulations.
"Building codes are a creativity killer," he said. "Imagine restricting every brush stroke an artist makes with ten thousand rules – that’s what building codes feel like to an architect. That’s why I quit my career to do this. I want to take away that frustration and make architecture more fun, like it is in school."
At the moment, the product is linked to codes in 26 US states and Washington, DC.
It is compatible with Autodesk Revit and will integrate with ArchiCad, SketchUp and IFC in the future, according to TechCrunch.
Image: An average BIM "has 27 code violations" (BISRIA)