The news flash for this week sees outdoor robots popping up in spring. Robots made of roof-swinging DeWalt nail guns, lawnmower robots specializing in solar farming, robots that exterminate weeds using hundreds of tiny blades, solar-powered automated piledriver robots, Honda’s sleek new mobile robot for construction sites, and autonomous robots, all-electric, AI strollers.
Spring has just kicked in (March 20, 5:24 p.m. EDT), and it’s when the ground starts to thaw, the birds are back, and lots of vendors are introducing their outdoor robots. The outdoors means robots for backyards, construction sites, farms, and large infrastructure projects just about everywhere. In short, it’s spring for robots.
If the winter is tough on roof shingles and some or all may need to be replaced, there’s a new robot ready. On March 2, 2023, Robotics Renovation (Spokane, Washington) introduces robots for roofing, including bituminous shingles. Plus, the technology is practical enough that it can be used to install solar panels (another fine weather task).
Global roofing market grow from $151.80 billion in 2022 to $161.36 billion in 2023 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6.3. The roofing market size is expected to grow to $193.26 billion by 2027 at a CAGR of 4.6%.
So the $1.2 million that Renovate Robotics recently raised from VC has the opportunity to grow and grow.
The device, a series of DeWalt nail guns, is attached to the roof and moves along its surface on the X and Y axes, powered by a winch. As it moved, he placed the shingles in position and nailed them. The roofing system requires an operator to monitor the progress of work, and several others on site to set, monitor and feed the system roofing material.
Solar farms need robots to mow the grass
Every solar farm, and there are 2,500 of them in the US alone, requires little lawn care, otherwise they risk overgrown grass, which can interfere with their efficiency. Not much thought was put into lawn maintenance when they were built, some as long as twenty years ago.
Enter Swap Robotics (Kitchener, Ontario) with Swap lawn mowers. “The solar market is a beachhead market for us,” said founder and CEO Tim Lichti. “Solar vegetation cutting solves a big problem for customers because mowing grass and vegetation is the biggest ongoing cost once a utility scale, solar installation is built.”
With 100% electricity, their lawn mowers can operate 24/7, making them attractive to buyers in a global market that is expected to be worth tens of billions of dollars by 2030.
The company has started using its system to select solar farms in the southern US, with plans to expand to other parts of the country throughout 2023.
“Exchange fees through a subscription-based RaaS (robot-as-a-service) model,” Lichti added that the company has prepared a $9 million contract for the next three years.
Weed cutting robot avoids herbicides
Weeds compete with plants for sunlight, water, nutrients, and space. Moreover, they harbor insects and pathogens, which attack cultivated plants. In the US and Canada each year, weeds damage crops worth $1.39 billion.
With the combination of expensive herbicides and the increasing resistance of weeds to herbicides, an alternative to chemical weeding is urgently needed. Wise (Salinas, CA) claims that its newest agricultural robot, the Vulcan, is a proven inexpensive and environmentally beneficial substitute for weeding technology.
On the website of FarmWise, an agricultural automation company co-founded by Sebastien Boyer, part of the company’s mission reads: “Our population is growing, and we can’t expand the land or water we have, so we need to drastically increase the efficiency of the livestock industry,”
Adds Boyer: “I think AI and data will be major players on that journey.” And that’s the whole point of Vulcan. The Vulcan is powered by AI which directs hundreds of tiny blades to cut weeds around each plant using machine vision to distinguish weeds from plants including leafy greens, cauliflower, artichokes and tomatoes while cutting weeds with sub-inch precision.”
The Vulcan is controlled directly from the tractor cab, where the operator has a touchscreen interface.
“It’s all about precision,” said Boyer. “We will better understand what factories need and make smarter decisions for each one. That would get us to the point where we could use the same amount of land, less water, almost no chemicals, less fertilizer, and still produce more food than we produce today.
“That’s the mission. That’s what gets me excited.”
Solar powered pile driving robot
The spring thaw in the Northern Hemisphere is the perfect time to push steel I-beams 16 feet into the earth. Many piles are needed to secure buildings, bridges, and wind farms, etc. before any construction begins. This is the tedious, thankless, but necessary part of most any construction project. Boom, boom, boom, the bored piledrive operator feels the vibrations all day long as the I-beam sinks.
Based in San Francisco Artificial robotics (founded in 2016), a developer of construction robots, has a solution for blunt, tedious, but necessary pile driving. Robot piledriver, RPD 35, a fully autonomous solar-powered piledriving robot.
Construction is a potential automation arena ripe for robotics. As Tech Crunch writer Bill Heater puts it: “One of the most remarkable things about construction robotics is the breadth of tasks that can potentially be automated.
“As I’ve noted before,” he adds, “a whole category is prime target for robotics startups, considering it fills all of the big D’s of automation – tedious, dirty, and (often) dangerous. It’s also one of the areas that is becoming increasingly difficult to manage, post-pandemic, even as construction work resumes.
The system is built, adding a lot of advantages just by moving the I-beam. Going beyond piledriving, the RPD 35 incorporates all the steps in the piling process; From surveying to stack distribution, driving and inspection, the RPD 35 is the one package that achieves the tightest tolerances on the market. “One package” deals can be a big differentiator in the marketplace.
Global piledriver market forecast from $7 billion by 2028up from $2 billion by 2022. That market may have a place for robotic piledriving systems do it all.
That2022 Inflation Reduction ActThe “Building a Clean Energy Economy” section includes a goal to install 950 million solar panels by 2030. With solar farms requiring tens of thousands of 12- to 16-foot-long piles set eight feet deep with less than one inch of tolerances, these piles are a critical component for meet that target.
Artificial Robotics, currently best known for its autonomous earth-digging heavy machine Exosystem, has just ventured into the pile driving space.
Honda launches a stylish workplace mobile robot
Even Honda put out a new spring 2023 look for the construction site. A highly stylized mobile robot that looks more like it’s in someone’s driveway than a construction site, Honda Autonomous Work Vehicles (AWV). it says”represents a new category of capable work vehicle for companies that need autonomous operations or delivery solutions.”
The AWV was unveiled at CONEXPO 2023 in Las Vegas in early March.
The current AWV evolved from the former Honda ATV (all-terrain vehicle) to essentially what was essentially an autonomous electric cart (2nd generation mobile robot) and then to today’s 3rd generation electric cart which resembles a mini flatbed truck.
Engadget Report: “AWV has a larger bed size (two pallets) and higher capacity (2,000 pounds); higher self-driving speeds of up to 10 MPH; a larger battery that offers up to 10 hours and 28 miles of battery life; better avoidance function; and a lower bed for easier loading.
Honda was now looking for a construction company to partner with, to work out any kinks or technical flaws or oversights.
What would a new spring be without new babies? What every new parent needs this year: an autonomous stroller. While pushing the sweet one, want to flip through the phone while chewing ice cream? Ella is all about that and more.
CES2023 voted it one of the best at this year’s show.
Ella is a self-driving, electric AI baby stroller from Vancouver, Canada GlüxKind which can even rock the baby to sleep. As the website says: “Glück means lucky and Good translates to son (from German)”.
Management says: Ella is equipped with everything from autonomous ‘driving’ capability (only when no children are inside), a built-in white noise engine (seriously, a white noise engine!!) and ‘brake assist’ technology, as well as plenty of storage and ‘brake assist’ technology. modular travel system’ that makes it easy to attach and detach the bassinet.”
Big carelessness: Ella without car seat integration. Oh well, there’s always next spring.