First Fully Autonomous Large Construction Equipment

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Robison Wells

While robots and autonomous equipment has been used for mapping and scanning jobsites, for the first time fully autonomous heavy equipment has been introduced and is getting ready to be put on the market.

Heavy equipment outfitted with Built’s software, including GPS and LIDAR is being used to fig trenches between pre-determined GPS points on a jobsite. Onboard cameras and the LIDAR will communicate to the equipment to make it aware of other machinery and nearby workers on the site, establishing what they call a “geo-fence.”

The equipment has been tested in real work environments. A wind farm project was the site of much research and development for Built’s software, where the heavy machinery, which is utilized in bulldozers, excavators, and compact track loaders, was used to dig the foundations of wind turbines.

The autonomous capabilities are optional, as any of the equipment can also be used by human operators, or even by remote control. Upgrading and training workers on the software will only take one to two days. Customers then pay a monthly fee for use of the software, and an hourly fee based on usage of the robot. After being trained, workers can oversee multiple pieces of equipment at once, and the amount of time it takes for an autonomous machine to perform a job is equivalent to a human doing it.

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