RodRadar allows operators to see underground utilities

RodRadar has developed a unique technology platform that automatically detects underground utility infrastructure in real time, on location, without the need for expert analysis.

The Live Dig Radar (LDR) system is the first ground penetrating radar that is integrated directly into an excavator bucket, allowing the operator to scan below ground quickly and easily for utilities. 

Damage to underground utility infrastructure during excavation is an ongoing global challenge that, despite significant attempts to resolve, continues to cost the construction industry billions of dollars annually. 

“RodRadar’s mission is to make the $100 billion annual cost of utility strikes around the world a thing of the past,” said Moshe Dalman, CEO and co-founder of RodRadar. “Our approach is completely different from anything else you see in the industry. We’re enabling the operator to see into the ground and have a tool that enables them to avoid utilities.” 

The Live Dig Radar system uses advanced algorithms to classify radar echo and determine utility location. The system is able to detect any man-made material, including plastic and metal, to locate gas, electric, water, fibre optic or telephone lines in any soil type.

To use the system, the operator positions the bucket at the starting point of where they plan to dig. With the push of a button, Live Dig Radar scans the earth for buried utilities as the operator slides the bucket along the ground. The in-cab LDR Visualize monitor then displays the distance and depth of utilities in the area where excavation is required. 

“This is the holy grail,” said Yuval Barnea, RodRadar’s Vice President of Sales and Marketing. “The operator finally has eyes to look into the ground to avoid these utilities.” 

AMI partnership

AMI Attachments is RodRadar’s first bucket and attachment manufacturing partner. Through the collaboration, RodRadar’s Live Dig Radar imaging technology has been integrated into designated AMI excavator buckets.

The RodRadar LDR Excavate digging buckets can be installed on any new or existing excavator, enabling North American contractors and utility companies to prevent costly utility strikes during excavation.

AMI has developed three buckets that include the Live Dig Radar system, including:

  • Type 1: 1.3 to 4.5 tonne excavators
  • Type 2: 4.5 to 10.8 tonne excavators
  • Type 3: 10.8 to 20 tonne excavators

The LDR system is comprised of three parts: the bucket, a harness to connect the system to the excavator’s power source and an in-cab monitor. The bucket is equipped with two antennas encased in Hardox steel to transmit and receive data. 

“Everything is rugged and built to sustain the harsh environment of excavation,” Barnea said.

Founded in 2013, the company’s key shareholders are angel investors and construction companies, including Brick & Mortar Ventures, Mayer Group (an Israeli Volvo CE distributor), Dysruptek (Haskell’s ventures arm) and Holt Ventures (Holt Cat’s ventures arm). 

Ease of use

Glenn Swisher, General Manager of the Texas-based Sitech-Tejas, a Holt company, said LDR ensures the operator is able to easily read the data collected by the system.

“What really impressed me about this system is the way that the data is presented to the operators,” Swisher said. “You can also switch to a second screen that actually gives you the radio wave of data. So, it’s very, very easy for an operator to interpret this.”

He added RodRadar’s tech give contractors the ability to map utility location beyond the flags typically placed by locators. 

“This really gives you the ability to look beyond that and have confidence before you dig,” Swisher said. 

Sitech-Tejas is also the first North American dealer to place an order with RodRadar for the LDR Excavator bucket. Finalized in February, the $1.4 million order will be delivered by AMI Attachments.

“We are pleased to offer this innovative solution to our customers, giving them an edge in bidding for construction projects with a high risk of utility strikes,” Swisher said. 

Rodradar in the field

As well as an investor, Haskell became the first contractor in the United States to take delivery of the LDR digging bucket. Haskell deployed the LDR bucket at several of its project sites, including the new $130 million Miller Electric Center in Florida, where Haskell is the general contractor.

“The solution does exactly what it says it does. The accuracy has been impeccable and it’s already helping Haskell to identify subsurface conditions we were not aware of before,” said Cutler Knupp, Managing Director of Dysruptek. “

Damage to underground utilities plagues the entire industry across the globe. We finally have an opportunity to completely eliminate strikes.” 

In Aspen, Colorado, LDR Excavate has help Stutsman & Gerbaz increase safety, efficiency and productivity. 

“It has been incredibly accurate and easy to use and it clearly gives us a tremendous advantage. Nobody could see into the ground, until now,” said Shay Stutsman, President of Stutsman & Gerbaz. “With the LDR, we can finally see what’s hidden from view while digging and avoid hitting underground utilities.”