Built Robotics deploys autonomous track loader

Built Robotics is using its own technology to help build its headquarters in San Francisco.

The company has created a sensor system that is capable of transforming heavy equipment into autonomous machines. This month Built Robotics released a video of an autonomous track loader (ATL) clearing a construction site.

The company is the creation of Noah Ready-Campbell, a former Google employee who sold his first company to eBay in 2015.  As well, his father was a general contractor.

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“I remembered driving through my hometown and seeing my dad point out houses he’d built, shops he’d worked on, even a small theatre he helped renovate,” Ready-Campbell said. “He had literally built the community he lived in, and the things he made will still be used by people in a hundred years. If I was looking for meaning, this was it.”

The sensors, along with its accompanying software, allows a supervisor to use an iPad to set a site perimeter and input the project plans to dictate what tasks and where the machine will complete.

“Over the coming months, we will push forward on our R&D roadmap and begin to deploy our robots at scale. And over the next few years, I believe our autonomous equipment will play a key role in helping make construction safer, faster and more affordable.”

The hardware uses the same sensors that are found on self-driving cars. However, the sensors are installed into “off-the-shelf, time-tested” heavy equipment. The autonomous software is then designed for the specific construction requirements.

“And because heavy equipment moves slowly and construction projects are already controlled-access sites, we could safely deploy the technology years before self-driving cars hit the road,” Ready-Campbell said.

Throughout the last two years, Built Robotics recruited a team of engineers, roboticists and construction experts to build the ATL, which is named Mary Anne, a reference to the children’s book Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel.

Now, the company has raised $15 million in funding, through the venture capital firm NEA, to get the technology to market.

“Building Mary Anne, our first ATL, is just the first step; in an $8 trillion global construction industry, there will be many, many more,” Ready-Campbell said.