After cutting their teeth in complex mining environments, multi-platform autonomous AI company Exyn Technologies is looking to break into the construction sector.
This month they announced a major partnership with Japanese construction company Obayashi.
Exyn announced Obayashi has purchased Exyn’s autonomous aerial robot based on Ascent Aerospace’s Spirit platform. Ascent platform’s fully modular, plug-and-play payload design offers similar flight times to the ExynAero while its smaller size allows it to access more confined spaces.
Obayashi has also purchased the ExynPAK, a portable, 3D mapping solution with survey-grade accuracy and real-time point cloud colourization. It can be mounted to a vehicle or even carried by hand. These tools will enable Obayashi to quickly and accurately update their Building Information Modeling (BIM) tools.
Exyn’s robots can be tasked with an exploration mission where the operator only has to define a volume of interest and press play for the robot to autonomously explore. Then the operator can watch the robot build a map in real-time to ensure total coverage and post-process the data into BIM software once the robot has landed.
“The core technology revolves around the intersection of high accuracy, data collection and autonomy,” explained Ben Williams, Exyn’s chief operating officer. “You can start collecting inaccessible data and more accurate data with autonomous systems. The reason this is interesting and important to physical industries is that we can gather so much data about the physical world that it can be digitized and then we can use digital tools that can’t access the physical world.”
Williams added the technology also boosts safety which Exyn found especially valuable when working in the mining sector.
“When you have unsafe or difficult to access environments that you need data from, an autonomous drone or bot can go where people can’t,” said Williams.
The mining sector offered irregular geometry and environments where assumptions couldn’t be made. Many of the environments also offered no communication or GPS which forced Exyn to develop a far more resilient, self-sufficient system.
“If we had operated in a GPS-rich environment, we probably just would assumed we would have GPS and that’s what you see a lot of industry doing, but developing from where we started gives us a huge leg up in other environments,” said Williams. “You can’t always count on GPS and it can have a low level of precision.”
It could also represent the beginning of a massive shift. Williams explained the speed that you can develop and test software capabilities is inherently faster than building physical upgrades and systems in the physical environment.
The more rapidly the industry shifts to digitization, the sooner it can test out models and processes.
“You see this in aerospace with fluid dynamic models,” he said. “It cuts down airframe development from years to months. The same thing is true for other industries. The better you are able to digitize the environment, the more rapidly you can do things in that environment.”
Nader Elm, co-founder and CEO of Exyn Technologies, said as construction projects have become large and complex, having good data will be necessary to maintain efficiency. Robotics is also an opportunity to address labour issues.
“I think it’s an exciting time,” he said. “We established ourselves in the mining market, and there is a huge opportunity in construction. Companies are now embracing technology in a very different way than 10 years ago. There are real problems to solve and I think robots can solve some hard ones. I am very excited about the impact we will see robots have on construction and the industry as a whole.”