October 4, 2021

NexteraGilbert DidgeRobot400x275Nextera Robotics and Gilbane Building Company have announced a joint-venture partnership to develop an artificial intelligence platform that utilizes a fleet of autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) to track construction progress and provide safety monitoring at job sites.

The new platform, dubbed “Didge”, provides autonomous “eyes on site” 24/7 by obtaining detailed visual data at construction sistes, creating a bridge to the field between design models, digital twins and plans. In addition, it boosts transparency, safety monitoring, and expediting progress tracking. The platform is designed to be customizable and multifunctional, including features such as 360-degree video capture and daily laser scanning in order to automate a field-to-BIM (building information modeling) connection. The platform can also monitor environmental conditions and enhance security surveillance on project sites.

“Our robotics platform is designed to offer a cost-efficient, automated means to make construction sites safer and more efficient,” said Michael McKelvy, president and CEO of Gilbane Building Company. “We’re always looking at ways to deliver greater value to our clients and our partnership with Nextera Robotics aims to do just that. Throughout our 150-year history, Gilbane has focused on developing innovations that help us to build smarter with the highest levels of safety.”

The Didge robots are fully autonomous, and the fleet does not require human supervision, Nextera said. Each robot can drive for up to six hours, and then it parks itself at the nearest base station for recharging. To achieve precise localization and navigation through the complex construction site environment, the robots use an approach similar to self-driving vehicles. The autonomous navigation software uses deep learning to process data from advanced depth sensors, cameras, lidars, inertial sensors all integrated into the robot, allowing it to make real-time decisions. Neural networks for localization, navigation, and mapping are trained on data collected over thousands of miles driving inside active construction sites, the company added.

The robot fleet currently includes wheeled and tread versions, and can scale stairs or use human-operated hoists. The company said regardless of the robot type, all share the same brains and eyes – high-performance edge computers and advanced navigation software, all connected to a fleet management cloud. Data collected via the robotics platform includes safety, progress tracking, and post-completion data for building owners through 360-degree images delivered on a 3D map. The platform provides a visual archive giving a “behind-the-walls” look into a building’s infrastructure once a project is complete.

“We truly believe that smart and gradual involvement of robotics and AI on all levels of construction, in every process – can improve productivity, increase safety and promote sustainable operations and a better environmental footprint for the entire industry,” said Lana Graf, CEO and founder of Nextera Robotics. “Nextera Robotics is all about efficiency and sustainability – and our extremely powerful AI and deep learning-powered software and products are built to make a long-awaited shift in construction. We as a robotics company are proud to be recognized by an industry leader such as Gilbane and together we will bring innovative and practical robotics products to the industry.”

For more details on the project, visit the Nextera Robotics website.