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Autonomy Now: How Early Adopters Can Realize Immediate Benefits

In my previous post, I discussed how we’re thinking about the worksite, the farm, the mine and the roadway of the future. In this post, I will discuss a real-world example of how autonomous capabilities are having an impact on worksites now.

Let’s look at the work Trimble is doing with Dynapac. We have been collaborating closely with Dynapac to develop and launch the world’s first autonomous compactor. The benefits of autonomous technology aren’t 7+ years away - they’re here now. Here’s what the construction industry can expect: 

Operator Safety -  The most common way someone in the construction industry is injured around heavy machinery is while getting on and off of the machine and with each autonomous machine we can limit this exposure to just one entry per day. Our system will also be aware of objects and obstacles 360 degrees around the machine - advanced awareness will also aid operators on the machine. 

Sustainability -   There are many levels of autonomous sustainability that benefit the environment and efficiency: increased productivity and accuracy, less reliance on a depleted pool of qualified labor, and less time and money spent on rework. Dietmar Grimm, Trimble VP of corporate strategy and sustainability solutions goes into further detail here about how autonomous capabilities relate to sustainability within the construction industry. 

Efficiency - At a construction site, it is not uncommon for compactor operators to continue to compact after initial task completion in an effort to be more productive. Optimal compaction with optimized path planning eliminates unnecessary passes, avoids over-compaction, reduces fuel consumption, wear on the machine and overall work time. These production efficiencies combined with reallocating the operator to another task can significantly improve efficiency and turn into direct cost savings for the owner.

Quality - A single autonomous machine will complete work with improved quality over the average human operator. Since we can maintain precise drum overlap of a compactor, and dynamically maintain positional accuracy under varying speeds, vibrations etc, we can minimize fuel costs while still having more consistent quality throughout the workday, thereby reducing re-work.

Reporting - Remote reporting from the autonomous machine will allow the site supervisor to understand the status of their jobsite and whether any mid-job changes need to occur. As conditions change, they will know exactly what’s been done, how much time other tasks will take, and effectively plan the next series of tasks. This allows contractors to produce progress reports required for invoicing; and in case of future problems, proof of work that was carried out. 

It is important to note that these technology and workflow enhancements aren’t for the construction industry alone. Our work with Dynapac also informs our roadmaps and plans across industries. For example, our implementation of optimized planning is used to plan a compaction task, as demonstrated with Dynapac, and can be used within agriculture to more efficiently spray a crop. We are perpetually considering how autonomy breakthroughs in one industry can positively impact the work we are doing in other industries, including agriculture, automotive, mining, heavy truck and many more.