Construction machine control is becoming increasingly prevalent, with early instances of autonomous compactors and hauling transitioning from remote and mining sites to bustling jobsites. This trend offers a potential solution for contractors facing challenges in finding skilled operating engineers, enabling the automation of certain tasks and the utilization of teleoperation to optimize engineer time across multiple machines or remote locations. However, commercial-off-the-shelf automation solutions may not cater to the needs of more specialized equipment.
Addressing this issue is the startup Polymath Robotics, which specializes in custom automation solutions and has introduced a configurable product for bulldozers. While automation efforts for bulldozers have been underway, Polymath's offering uniquely combines teleoperation with automation, providing a versatile solution. Stefan Seltz-Axmacher, the Founder and CEO of Polymath Robotics, shared insights in a December 2023 call with IRONROS about their collaboration with HARD-LINE (now owned by Hexagon) in selling semi-autonomous bulldozers that can also be teleoperated.
Polymath Robotics aims to simplify the integration of autonomy into off-highway equipment, covering a range of machines such as skid steers, specialty tractors, articulated dump trucks, bulldozers, and yard trucks. The company's focus is on enhancing safety and delivering significant cost savings and return on investment (ROI) for end customers. Seltz-Axmacher noted that Polymath collaborates with various entities, including OEMs, large operators of heavy equipment, and other tech companies, tailoring solutions to fit into broader strategies or autonomy offerings.
According to Seltz-Axmacher, contractors engaging with Polymath Robotics receive a straightforward ROI guarantee as the company adds automation to their equipment operations. This includes retrofitting teleoperation to a product, followed by the addition of autonomy, potentially reducing the need for multiple teleoperators and saving on labor costs. The guarantee covers savings in idle time, fuel efficiency, and direct labor expenses.
Whether working closely with contractors, equipment operators, or collaborating with companies like HARD-LINE, Polymath or its partners provide service and support after onboarding. Seltz-Axmacher mentioned that the integration timeline varies, with existing integrations taking around 10 days and new integrations ranging from eight to 12 weeks. The company emphasizes its commitment to delivering real customer value and ongoing improvements to its products.
Seltz-Axmacher highlighted that the focus should be on guaranteed outcomes rather than the size of the team delivering the technology. He emphasized the simplicity and straightforward nature of Polymath's promise: that their solution will cost less per hour than a human operator, providing a compelling value proposition for contractors looking to automate.
While building a customer base is a priority, Seltz-Axmacher emphasized that Polymath's ultimate goal is to deliver high-performing solutions. The company aims to rapidly initiate and support programs that demonstrate the reliability and safety of their automated solutions, paving the way for continued growth and expansion into various equipment types.
By Charles Rathmann