The modern construction site could be taken over by drones, thanks to an Atlanta-based SkyMul.
Eohan George started looking at how tech could solve common, and often dangerous, problems on construction sites. During the customer discovery process, he saw that rebar tying was a cumbersome task.
“We were initially confident that there was a solution that someone else would have made already and was trying to find it online,” George told Hypepotamus. “We found a lot of different ways that people solve this issue: a large gantry robot, pneumatically/electrically operated rebar tying machine, rebar that could be rolled out like a mat. Unfortunately, these solutions were all not scalable for many of the customers that we talked to.”
Rebar, short for reinforcing bar, is a critical piece in making concrete floors and walls. However, as George explained, tying those individual bars together is an intricate process. “There are many technical challenges that have to be solved to automate this process; from moving over treacherous rebar mat to detecting rebar to understanding the placement of rebar to applying tens of pounds of force using tiny metal wires to tie them together.”
George admits that it isn’t a “glamorous industry,” and that construction sites have a hard time retaining staff that can tie rebar.
SkyMul’s solution, SkyTy, looks to cut the time, labor, and cost associated with tying rebar.
To scale its tech ahead of larger pilot programs in 2022, the team has moved to Curiosity Lab in Peachtree Corners, a public-private partnership that attracts companies building in the autonomous technologies space.
The space at the Lab is needed as the team tests out their robots as they look to launch a small service team in 2023, according to George.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports there are over 18,000 reinforcing iron and rebar workers in the US, though that number is expected to grow as new construction sites boom in the post-pandemic world.
It is estimated that US construction sites lay down close to 9 million tons of rebar each year, according to an organization that tracks the space.
Note: SkyMul is hiring! Check out open positions here.