TyBot, a concrete rebar tying robot, ties the 2 millionth work tie


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When making its US debut at the 2020 World of Concrete Show, TyBot had a busy year working on bridge projects across the US. “We’re not a prototype, science experiment, or college study,” says Jeremy Serrock, co-founder and president of TyBot’s manufacturer, Advanced Construction Robots. “TyBot is a product that does real work.” What is that? But before we get into what TyBot does, let’s first look at what it is. TyBot is a standalone rebar coupling system, the first in the line of envisaged robotic equipment for ACR. Once TyBot is set up on the job site, the technician gives it some input with a small remote control panel, then starts working completely autonomously using robots and artificial intelligence. Using computer vision, TyBot autonomously navigates the decks of the bridge, identifying and connecting armature junctions, then moving to the next intersection, running at about 1,000 links per hour. ACR compares that to 60 typical links that a single worker can produce – a difficult and tedious task. The TyBot is not controlled remotely, though the belly box controller is used to communicate with and monitor TyBot. No pre-programming and no streamed design files. TyBot sees that every intersection in the rebar mat is joined, according to Searock, and begins bonding. “It’s over,” he says. While working no breaks are needed: TyBot hooked up to heat and humidity in Orange County, Florida. Advanced Building Robots For TyBot to have an economic meaning in a bridge or road project, there must be a scale. “Once you reach 20,000 square feet, that is a very simple savings for a contractor,” says Sirok. TyBot typically fits a 40ft trailer and can be towed by an F250 pickup truck. On larger jobs that require more cross sections, additional relocation will be required. Once at the job site, the TyBot is positioned by a winch or lever. Searock compares the setting to a concrete finisher, “it’s just easier,” he says. No tools are required, and depending on the range – the rail distance can be expanded continuously from 9 to 100 feet – this can be done in one to four hours. Already assembled screed bars are used on site as their track. “Once it is lifted into place, there are only eight pins and an electrical conductor to add in the sections of the middle bridge to expand it,” says Sirok. TyBot is powered by a gas generator, and the wire comes in 15-pound reels. The ACR says that during operation, the TyBot does not impede the movement of other construction equipment. However, the human interaction will not disappear. Here’s how ACR describes the riveting process in a video: Before TyBot gets to work, crews place rebar and tie enough intersections to secure them, about 10% of the total mission. As crews continue to lay and frame the rug, TyBot works behind them, connecting the remaining intersections. When the kits finish the lower rebar mat, they can place and frame the upper rebar mat, following TyBot as it attaches to the lower rebar mat. At the end of the bottom mat attachment, the TyBot is repositioned to begin the upper armature mat attachment behind the workers. ACR says TyBot can operate on many structures, including bridges, highways, and prefabricated systems. It can handle up to 12% grade and 12% super high and is compatible with up to # 8X # 9 rebar. It can also work at night and in inclement weather. TyBot works best with straight styles; Serok says more custom designs will still require people. Leasing factors: Connecting TyBot to Unit 2 of the Susquehanna Central Valley Transportation Project, Advanced Building Robots There are currently 10 TyBots operating in the United States; ACR now offers weekly and monthly leases. At World of Concrete, ACR said each TyBot is charged $ 796,000; However, the company has worked with its supply chain to cut costs and expects the new selling price to be lower. You will later announce the exact price. Since TyBot can operate from 9 to 100 feet, the size of the project will be a significant factor in determining the cost. So are your local employment rates. Since TyBot can be compared to staff cost, rental cost is related to area labor rates. “Our value depends on our labor costs,” says Sirok. “You really can’t be charged a New York rate fee in South Texas and vice versa.” With the lease agreement, ACR will handle the logistics, including moving the unit to the job site and providing a technician to ensure it runs smoothly. The lease includes technical support and on-site training. What’s Next? Searock and CEO Stephen Muck founded ACR in 2016. Searock is a robotics scientist and Muck – who serves as chairman and CEO of heavy civil contracting company Brayman Construction in Saxonburg, Pennsylvania – provided his real-life perspective of what was needed on a construction site. “Our goal is to design robots that fit with the industry’s current workflow,” says Sirok. “We can change the way that a road or bridge is built that would be more efficient, but that’s a bigger jump for the industry. So we like doing these cascading sets of robots that complement each other.” The ACR is in later stages of work on its IronBot platform, designed to take out other job site hassles: moving and installing rebar. IronBot will install rebar and precede TyBot, which connects rebar. While transporting rebar, IronBot, which can handle a total of 5,000 pounds, can also carry other equipment and / or materials. “It really made sense to do the TyBot precedent,” says Sirok. “And we’re going to reuse a lot of TyBot’s designs and knowledge.” Unlike TyBot, however, IronBot will need to work outside the job specification. But please don’t think TyBot or IronBot are the ones to exclude the jobs, Searock confirms. “There are a lot of other higher-skilled tasks that people do that robots aren’t good at. This will help contractors get more done with the same number of people, not fewer people.” Searock sees future job sites as a mixture of robots and humans working together, with robots doing dangerous, repetitive and boring jobs. Getting workers comfortable with this “new normal for robots” would be analogous to the way robots have been accommodated in factories, although the ever-changing workplace environment is certainly more difficult. “We are in the midst of the beginning of a new industrial revolution around this type of technology, and construction can be used to help,” says Serok. An overview of the TyBot process can be found below:


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