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Autonomous Vehicles Finding Their Sweet Spot in Construction

Jul 18, 2019

TuSimple is an autonomous trucking firm conducting a two-week pilot of big rigs on a 1,000-mile mail-run from Dallas to Phoenix. The Wall Street Journal (May 22, 2019, p. B-5), ran the article by Jennifer Smith, pointing out the U.S. Post Office is testing the self-driving trucks as vehicle makers and investors are spending millions on trucking automation. A Postal Service spokeswoman said the desire is to accommodate a diverse mail mix, reduce emissions, improve service and cut costs of operations. There are many start-ups developing autonomous-truck technologies. In addition to TuSimple, which recently raised $95M to expand their fleet, Daimler AG is investing $570M and has majority stake in Torc Robotics who has also worked with Caterpillar in creating autonomous mining trucks.

Watch video of Built Robotics’ excavator “Dorothy”, April 29, 2019:

built-robotics-dorothy-youtube-thumb
Watch on YouTube »

Built Robotics is taking technologies used in building self-driving cars to adapt those concepts to construction. They are applying self-driving tech to construction excavators like “Dorothy” (see the video). Able to complete the basic menial tasks of drivers, Dorothy allows humans to focus on more complex and tedious jobs in excavation. Like every other part of the construction industry, large machine and truck operations are experiencing a shortage of trained drivers. McKinsey Global Institute (2017) reported that labor productivity in construction had fallen 50% since 1970. A building costs twice as much to build today as it did 40 years ago. Construction is ripe for autonomous driving innovations due to increasing costs of building and the labor shortage. For long hauls and construction sites, applications of autonomous driving technologies are beginning to impact the world of work for electrical contractors and the construction industry as a whole.

Read about autonomous driving tech innovations impacting the future of construction:


NECA Technology – the Project for Applied and Disruptive Technology, explores the world of technology and keeps members informed of what’s happening today, and of what will be launched in the not-too-distant future.  Dr. Joey Shorter has an extensive background in education and experience in translating the work of academics into understandable, practical ideas.