Self-Driving Excavators Hit the Market
Fully autonomous heavy construction machinery is now a reality in the U.S. Construction technology company, Built Robotics, has released a final software update to bring the automated earth-moving technology onto the market for contractor use.
The software is powered by artificial intelligence, using cameras, LiDAR and GPS to guide heavy machinery to perform tasks autonomously around site. This may be to excavate a trench between two GPS locations for example. Alternatively, plant can be controlled remotely through a web platform.
But what about safety around workers? Well the equipment can be set up with a geofence which prevents it from operating outside a specified area. Additionally, the cameras on the machine can identify nearby workers and vehicles to automatically stop the machine and prevent collision.
All this can be operated and monitored by a pilot in an off-site location.
Built Robotics say that the software can be setup in a couple of days on equipment from any manufacturer. The software is charged based on a monthly subscription fee plus an hourly rate for usage of the equipment.
Why we should care..
Remote operators will be able to monitor several autonomous heavy machines at once, vastly improving productivity and reducing the impact of labour shortages on scheduling and output.
By removing workers from site it provides a potential safety upside as well.
This technology is bringing construction one-step closer to being dominated by automation and robotics and the concept of ‘on-site factories’.
Several companies are exploring this concept such as UK-based MACE who developed the ‘rising factory’. Their unique construction method mixes off-site production quality with on-site installation convenience.
The car manufacturing industry has benefited tremendously from automated assembly lines.
The emergence of the construction equivalent, a highly automated on-site production line, will improve quality and productivity, two areas in which construction has always struggled.
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