Thursday, August 20, 2020

Autonomous Construction Equipment

Construction is one of the toughest industries to automate while the somewhat related (big equipment) mining business has proven to be one of the leaders:
There have been attempts in construction, the Dutch semi-automated brick-road-laying machine and the Australian cinder block wall-making robot are examples but remain very niche.

And more recently, from Nanalyze, August 6:

Built Robotics and Autonomous Construction Equipment
In the U.S. alone, 453,200 construction equipment operators plied their trade in 2018, many of whom used earth moving machines to move dirt around for various reasons. While operating an earthmover may sound like fun to an 8-year-old, the job itself mostly fits the three d’s – dull, dirty, and dangerous. Many road construction projects require you to work at night, and you’ll be required to work in nearly all weather conditions. Sounds like just the job for some robots.

Many industries might learn from how the military operates autonomous aerial vehicles – drones – to monitor who in the world needs some more freedom. Typically, one operator will oversee multiple drones which are largely automated but often require a “human in the loop.” That’s the vision for Built Robotics, a company that’s offering autonomy to the $1 trillion earth moving industry.
About Built Robotics
Click for company website
Founded in 2016, San Francisco startup Built Robotics first came across our radar in 2017 when we published a piece on “8 Startups Building Robotic Construction Workers.” At the time, Built was coming out of stealth and talking about taking the sensors from self-driving cars and retrofitting them into construction equipment. Today, Built’s technology transforms existing construction equipment — including excavators, bulldozers, and skid steers — into fully autonomous robots. The AI guidance systems can be installed on existing equipment from any manufacturer, while still maintaining complete manual operation capabilities.
Credit: Built Robotics
This past February, Built Robotics debuted the country’s first commercially deployed autonomous construction equipment at North America’s largest construction trade show, CONEXPO-CON/AGG. Conference attendees in Las Vegas were able to operate a Built robot located in Houston and see first-hand how autonomous heavy equipment is the way forward.

And it wasn’t just a fancy demo. These autonomous capabilities are now available to contractors and heavy machine operators. The upgraded equipment is able to perform common tasks fully autonomously, such as digging trenches, excavating foundations, and grading building pads. An article by Construction Dive talks about implementation and pricing. “Upgrading and training to use the software through Built can take one or two days,” after which “customers then pay a monthly subscription fee for using the software, as well as an hourly fee based on the usage of the robot.”...

Ah, CaaS, construction as a service.