Contractors are at the helm of one of the most integral parts of the American economy. Construction is what builds the nation, and as more and more people come to the United States, more needs to be built to house and service those who live and work among us.
As the human race has advanced, so has our technology, and while unmanned vehicles were once the pinnacle of fantasy and science fiction, today they are a true reality. In fact, there are more unmanned vehicles around you that you’re probably not aware of. And, we’re not talking about Elon Musk’s Tesla brand.
Today, autonomous construction vehicles are being relied on much more heavily because they mitigate the risk of human injury in hazardous conditions. Additionally, unlike humans, autonomous vehicles don’t need a lunch break.
Whether a seasoned veteran of the construction world or if you’re starting the process of getting your contractor’s license, here are a few interesting things you should know about smart construction vehicles.
In 2017, Caterpillar introduced their latest fleet of autonomous construction vehicles. These included 56 Cat793f trucks for mining and hauling operations.
Today this fleet is over three times larger, and the trucks are used in operations all over the world. Additionally, Caterpillar boasted that the autonomous trucks would deliver 20 percent greater production capability than their manned trucks.
This is just a small example of the new autonomous technology that has been introduced during the last decade, and it’s only advancing toward better and faster models with greater productivity rates.
If you’ve ever driven around a major city or have taken a cross-country road trip, it’s certain that you’ve found yourself stuck in traffic or have had to slow down while approaching an ongoing, active construction site.
Road construction takes time, and it also takes a lot of workers to perform this construction. Using autonomous vehicles not only mitigates risks of human injury but the level of performance and productivity is also doubled when using a machine that can operate 24 hours a day if needed.
It is thought that just one autonomous vehicle could replace an entire work crew, though a smaller crew would still be required to supervise and inspect the machine as the job is being performed.
Autonomous vehicles aren’t just big machines. These are controlled by sophisticated software programs, remote-controlled by humans, and set to perform a list of tasks that humans would take twice as long to complete.
Today, these autonomous vehicles are outfitted with technology that mines data and gives contractors and supervisors detailed visuals on how the job is going and how much progress is being made.
Using LIDAR sensors, GPS sensors, and other sensitive technology, autonomous vehicles are being equipped to not only perform the job but to relay detailed information to department heads who need to crunch numbers to make decisions and aid in planning ahead.
Small Smart Options
You don’t need to be a big-time contractor to use autonomous or remote-controlled vehicles for your job site. Today, small construction equipment is often used in urban planning, landscaping, and general contracting.
Landscapers have access to remote control options such as stump grinders which operate at the push of a button, removing the need for the shovel and ax. Drones are used by general contractors to survey potential job sites and acquire data that they would otherwise not be able to see.
Though these smaller smart machines aren’t as impressive as unmanned excavators which can be operated by anyone hundreds of miles away, they do allow for the small contractor to gain an edge over the competition.
Considering Smart Vehicles
Going forward, unless you’re already a big-time contractor on a large-scale job, autonomous construction vehicles are probably not going to be of much help. But one day, when you’re eyeing that multi-million dollar project, having knowledge of the capabilities of these vehicles could be a great asset to you and your company.
Founder Dinis Guarda
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