SafeAI opts to retrofit autonomous trucks
Upgrades existing equipment instead of built-from-scratch Metal Tech News – July 21, 2021
Last updated 7/12/2022 at 12:38pm
A single mine haul truck can cost up to $5 million, so adapting a single large mine to autonomous haulage can cost in the tens or even hundreds of millions. SafeAI Inc. is taking the retrofit approach to provide a solution to existing mines where equipment replacement would ordinarily be cost-prohibitive.
Since its start in 2017, SafeAI has been focused on delivering the benefits of connecting autonomy to the construction and mining industries. Based in California, the company retrofits heavy equipment, such as dump trucks and skid steers, with autonomous hardware and software to help construction and mining companies create smarter, safer, and more productive job sites.
To deliver autonomy and its impact, SafeAI has taken a unique approach to deploy the technology. While many companies take a custom-build method, creating self-driving equipment from the ground up, SafeAI has designed its business around upgrading existing equipment.
"SafeAI is accelerating autonomy in the construction and mining industries," SafeAI Founder and CEO Bibhrajit Halder penned in a column titled "Smarter site." "... it is retrofitting heavy equipment with autonomous hardware and software to help [the] construction and mining sector create smarter, safer, more productive sites."
SafeAI implements its tech into conventional machines and gives it a smart upgrade by installing its SafeAI Autonomous Kit, regardless of the equipment manufacturer, allowing it to become a part of a system controlled by its AI Compute Platform.
"Our approach is both OEM- and systems-agnostic, which means that any company that wants to modernize operations can work with SafeAI, regardless of what brand their fleet is," wrote Halder. "SafeAI has built an autonomous ecosystem that allows any industry player to integrate with our technology stack to create smarter sites and deliver autonomy project-wide. This allows us to play to our strengths without spreading ourselves too thin, while also ensuring our customers benefit from the best technology and expertise in the industry, site-wide."
Recently the company partnered with Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. to deliver tire intelligence to autonomous heavy equipment. Through SafeAI's technology, they can exchange site data on temperature, pressure, miles traveled, and more to better understand equipment performance and identify potential problems.
So, beyond autonomy, SafeAI also offers predictive maintenance potential that allows monitoring of equipment health as much as operating it.
"We know tire health is critical to safe, efficient performance, and that any issues that arise can quickly cause costly downtime. But we're not experts in tires; Goodyear is. By collaborating, we can focus on what we do best, building advanced, industry-specific AI to operate retrofitted fleets, while also offering our customers expertise from our partners," continued Halder.
In addition to Goodyear, SafeAI has also partnered with Obayashi Corp. to develop autonomous sites, as well as its most recent expansion into Canada, one of the largest mining countries in the world, and according to Halder, "Canada is a natural fit for our business."
SafeAI operates in the U.S. and Australia, where its retrofit machines are tested exhaustively to understand optimal conditions related to weather, temperature, and more to ensure maximum safety.
Expansion into Canada comes on the heels of a year of significant growth for SafeAI as the company accelerated off-road deployment of autonomous technology. Moreover, the company recently announced $21 million in Series A funding to accelerate research and development and global growth.