With industrial robotics forecast to be worth $71.72 billion by 2023, it’s no wonder entrepreneurs are turning their attention to increasingly lucrative sectors, like warehouse automation, order fulfillment, and manufacturing.
Tel Aviv-based Intsite is one of the latest examples. The startup today announced a $1.35 million pre-seed round led by Terra Venture Partners and the Israel Innovation Authority to fund what it claims is the world’s first autonomous crane technology.
Intsite, which was founded in 2017 by brothers Tzach and Mor Ram-On — both engineering graduates from the Technion Israel Institute of Technology — developed a platform that taps computer vision to analyze camera feeds in real time, ensuring tower crane operators are made aware of workers and obstacles within range. Its automated controls, meanwhile, improve the cranes’ precision by as much as 30 percent.
That’s sure to be attractive to firms employing tower cranes, CEO Tzach Ram-On contends, of which about 100,000 are in active use. According to McKinsey, about 98 percent of construction mega-projects go significantly over budget, in part as a result of heavy equipment inefficiencies.
“We are excited that Terra Venture Partners is supporting us on this journey, and I have a great faith in our growing team and solution,” Tzach Ram-On said. “On a personal level, as a civil engineer, I am thrilled the construction sector is starting to reap the benefits of digital transformation.”
Intsite said its platform’s been tested on sites owned by Shikun & Binui Solel Boneh, one of Israel’s largest construction companies, as part of the firm’s BuildUp innovation program. It expects to begin piloting its system in the U.K. and France early next year.
“We believe the construction industry has vast potential for improving productivity and efficiency through digitalization, innovative technologies, and new construction techniques,” said Terra Venture Partners managing partner Astorre Modena. “This sector is where Marketing was 16 years ago before the introduction of Salesforce — less than 1% of revenues from construction are spent on software, compared to counterparts spending of 3.5-4.5%. We’re excited for Intsite to realize its potential.”
The company is currently working out of Terra’s incubator, TerraLab. Intsite has four employees and plans to hire two or three additional computer vision and machine learning engineers.
Of course, it isn’t the only one applying AI to construction.
San Francisco-based OpenSpace in June announced a platform that analyzes imagery from hard hat-mounted cameras to map construction sites in real time. Doxel, a startup that emerged from stealth in January, uses a lidar-equipped robot to scan sites and track progress. And Japan-based construction company Komatsu partnered with Nvidia in December 2017 to deploy Nvidia Jetson-powered intelligent cameras that would, in the two firms’ words, “create 3D visualizations of construction sites, showing the real-time interaction of people, machinery, and objects.”