Technology

US start-up unveils rebar-placing robot

14 April 2019 | By BIM+ staff

A US construction robotics company has unveiled its concept for an autonomous machine that can lift, carry and place rebar on bridges and other horizontal reinforced concrete applications.

Pittsburgh-based Advanced Construction Robotics (ACR) said its “IronBot” does away with a backbreaking task for workers, and addresses the shortage of skilled labour.

The start-up company, which was spun off from US civil engineering contractor Brayman Construction Corporation, revealed its concept at the Bauma construction machinery trade fair last week in Munich, Germany, saying it planned to commercialise the IronBot starting in 2020.

It will be the second construction robot developed by ACR. The first was developed to tie rebar. Called TyBot, it is an autonomous robotic arm rigged to a gantry crane that uses artificial intelligence and machine vision to locate steel rebar junctions and attach a tie.

Last year ACR received $4m (£3.06m) from investors to commercialise the technology, and it has been deployed on bridge projects in the US.

TyBot was the brainchild of Brayman Construction owner Stephen Muck, who was concerned by the difficulties his company faced in finding enough skilled labour to deliver bridge projects.

As he told Construction Research & Innovation last year, he hired a Pittsburgh robotics company to build a small prototype as proof of concept. 

In 2016 he founded ACR with Jeremy Searock, formerly of Carnegie Mellon University’s National Robotics Engineering Center. 

Image: ACR plans to commercialise the IronBot starting in 2020 (ACR)