This startup wants to change construction with robots, AI
- Tech startup Doxel has developed a system driven by robotics, artificial intelligence (AI) and LIDAR laser scanning technologies to streamline construction processes, according to Disruptor Daily.
- The company, which secured $4.5 million in funding earlier this month, is honing an autonomous robot that can climb stairs and move along construction sites. The bot uses LIDAR imaging to scan site progress with accuracy — the company says — down to the millimeter, in order to monitor a project's quality and adherence to schedule.
- Doxel, which has used the technology with Kaiser Permanente, maintains that the bot helped the healthcare company reduce its construction budget by 11% while increasing project productivity by 38%.
The construction industry is ready for disruption — and that disruption is at its doorstep. Recent reports point to automation displacing nearly 3 million construction workers in the next 40 years. And as more companies develop and hone robotics and AI systems geared toward easing the industry's well-documented productivity problem, that momentum is expected to hold for the foreseeable future.
While the automation stands to be a boon for productivity, technological innovations in AI and advances in automation also promise to increase worker safety. One autonomous track loader is being tested to excavate holes for building foundations while another bot is working to tie rebar on bridge decks, in hopes of eventually eliminating the need for humans to do potentially hazardous or strenuous work. Meanwhile, researchers in Canada are using AI to study how construction workers can reduce wear-and-tear injuries.
Last month, tech giant NVIDIA announced a partnership with Japanese construction equipment-maker Komatsu to bring drones and AI to the jobsite. The move, according to the companies, will enable firms using NVIDIA's AI platform to take data collected from drones to assess equipment costs and real-time worker interactions with each other, machinery and other jobsite elements. The platform may later mirror similar systems used in vehicles to prevent collisions and ensure safety.
For many analysts, digital tools today and of those of the future represent a greater opportunity than they do a threat. McKinsey Research estimates that using digital tools — like drones, laser scanning and BIM, among others — could lift productivity by more than 50% and create $1.6 trillion in value. According to Chidambaram Somu, virtual construction manager at DPR Construction, laser scanning alone can save around 85 cents per square foot on rework.
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