There’s a lot of buzz around self-driving cars, but autonomous driving technology could revolutionize the construction industry first. That industry hasn’t changed much over the last several decades, according to some experts, making it an ideal candidate for automation.
“The way we build today is largely unchanged from the way we used to build 50 years ago,” said Gaurav Kikani, vice president of Built Robotics. “Within two years, I think we’re really going to turn the corner, and you’re going to see an explosion of robotics being used on construction sites.”
“Covid is making people step back and say, ‘hey, the way we’ve been doing things for a long time is just not sustainable,’” said Kevin Albert, founder and CEO of Canvas. “It is just a wake-up call for the industry.”
Canvas is one of several companies working on autonomous construction technology. Big players like Caterpillar and Komatsu, and start-ups like SafeAI and Built Robotics, see value in using autonomous machines to accelerate construction projects.
The mining industry was one of the first to employ the use of self-driving tech. Caterpillar began its first autonomy program more than 30 years ago. The company now has the largest fleet of autonomous haul trucks. Caterpillar says it’s hauled 2 billion metric tons in just over six years.
Built Robotics is a San Francisco-based start-up founded by an ex-Google engineer that already has machinery out in the field. It’s automated several pieces of equipment, such as bulldozers and excavators.