SkyMul robot aims to automate concrete prep work

SkyMul is designing a robot capable of completing the layout for rebar placement and post tensioning cables, as well as tying the thousands of ties required in rebar preparation for cast-in-place concrete applications. 

Based in Atlanta, SkyMul is a robotics start up company founded by Georgia Tech alumni. The company’s goal is to automate many of the tedious, labour-intensive tasks required before concrete is poured. 

“I’ve met two types of people: one who do not know what rebar tying is and the other is one who hates rebar tying,” said Eohan George, SkyMul’s Co-Founder and CEO. 

“It’s backbreaking work. You’re bent over doing a pretty repetitive task, day in and day out.”

Preparation work accounts for the majority of the labour required for cast-in-pace concrete. For example, on a six-day jobsite, five days would be dedicated to preparation, while pouring concrete would typically account for one day. 

SkyMul’s SkyTy robot

SkyMul’s solution is SkyTy, an automated rebar tying solution for the concrete industry. 

The semi-autonomous robot leverages machine learning and computer vision to map the work area and locate rebar intersections to find, classify and plan the work to be done. SkyTy does not require CAD files or site plans to complete the task. 

“We have spent a lot of time on construction sites to really understand how things are done and how things can be optimized,” George said. “So, we’re coming in as a humble outsider trying to try to improve the process.”

While the first version of SkyTy used a quadcopter drone to move the robot on-site, the machine now includes four legs to walk on top of rebar or the planning site. 

On outdoor jobsites, SkyTy uses GPS to determine location for layout and rebar tying. Inside, the robot is guided by positioning cameras that are setup around the perimeter of the jobsite. 

SkyTy is also outperforming its human counterpart for rebar tying. On average, a human requires 20 seconds to tie one rebar section. SkyTy can complete the task in 14 seconds. 

In 2023, the robot was deployed to its first real world jobsite to test its abilities at marking layout for rebar and post tensioning cables. The next step for SkyMul is to test SkyTy’s rebar tying capabilities on a live jobsite.