Friday 15 January 2016

Contract Robot

Contract robots are one of the first manifestations of how “cognitive computing”, or the simulation of human thought processes by a computer, is being used in the construction industry. It’s not quite Artificial Intelligence, but the robots’ ability to extract accurate data from chaotic documents is already saving one law firm hours of arduous work sifting through contracts looking for dates and addresses.

“We take paper-based contracts and unstructured documents and extract information from them to create accurate structured data,” says Peter Wallqvist, managing director of tech start-up RAVN, which has developed the UK’s first contract robot with international law firm Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP).

The programme it has developed not only automatically reads documents, but interprets, extracts and summarises information, much as a human would do — but significantly faster.

The contract robot is being used by BLP to submit light obstruction notices. It does this by extracting data from Land Registry documents into a spreadsheet, which is crosschecked for accuracy, then uses this data to send out the light obstruction notices. According to Wallqvist, the robot does this 10 million times faster than the human it has replaced.

Wallqvist’s business is currently focusing on the property management sector, due to the large number of pre-existing contracts that need to be interpreted. However, as the majority of businesses have vast amounts of paperwork, often historical, to be processed, he believes that contract robots could have applications throughout the construction industry.

“We are experts in understanding existing contracts. If companies have a situation where they are using a lot of manual labour to read documents, that is the sweet spot for contract robots,” he concludes.

Extracted from:, (2016). Construction Manager - Agenda. [online] Available at: [Accessed 14 Jan. 2016].