Is self-driving equipment the future of construction?
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Teleo has a solution for the labor shortage — construction equipment that can be operated like a video game. The solution comes with an even more innovative twist: The Bay Area company can retrofit a firm’s existing fleet of dozers, loaders, and trucks into remote control robots.
The company was founded by Vinay Shet and Rom Clement, the brains behind Lyft’s autonomous vehicles. The cofounders believe their technology can serve the construction industry, enabling heavy equipment to perform repetitive tasks with remote oversight. Operators work in the comfort of a central command center, away from the noise and dust of the construction site. And improved working conditions might attract more talent to the construction industry.
Equipment can’t go fully autonomous — at least not yet. Rather, it’s what the company calls “supervised autonomy,” a system that relies on skilled operators to perform the complex tasks the technology can’t yet handle.
Teleo is making inroads with construction, excavation, and site-development firms. California-based Teichert Materials will be the first Teleo customer to launch night operations. The company’s crawler dozers, retrofitted with Teleo technology, will push sand and gravel to an on-site processing plant, Construction Equipment reports.
So far, it appears the technology is largely reserved for heavy equipment, but it might not be long before we see smaller machines with AI integration. Propane-fueled scissor lifts, forklifts, concrete grinders, power buggies, and other construction equipment would lend themselves well to autonomous operation. Not only would this improve jobsite efficiency, but machines fueled by propane produce fewer emissions than their gas and diesel counterparts.