SRI, a technology development company founded in 1946 by Stanford University, has unveiled an autonomous digger for construction sites and other similar heavy-duty applications. (See video below.)
The “smart excavator” can be operated remotely and comes with an augmented reality system which makes the process secure, more convenient, and “as easy as playing a video game”.
SRI likens it to the Nintendo Wii, saying the control system only takes “a couple of minutes to master”, adding that, by giving excavators a “robotification upgrade”, the operator doesn’t need to be in the driver’s seat and can even “operate the machinery from anywhere around the world”.
As workers retire, the construction industry faces increasing difficulty finding operators for heavy machinery. Considering this looming shortage, SRI has developed this robotic solution to automate repetitive actions such as digging, and enables intuitive remote operation for more complex actions.
SrI says this progressive autonomy approach will increase the productivity of remaining workers, create new opportunities for remote workers, and encourage new workers to join the industry by making equipment operation safer and more comfortable.
A number of different companies around the world are developing autonomous construction machinery, such as diggers like the one unveiled by SRI. So it’s likely that this year and next when the construction sector starts increasing aggregate, industry-wide productivity in the way manufacturing and other segments of the modern economy have experienced over the past 50 or more years.
Despite the advanced machinery and equipment used in the construction industry, numerous research findings show that the construction industry has seen the slowest progress in terms of productivity when compared with other large sectors of the economy.