AI Robots Tackle US's 'D' Grade Infrastructure, Predict Flaws

AI-powered Gecko Robotics inspects and predicts flaws in U.S. 'D' grade infrastructure, signaling a shift towards proactive maintenance.

By Max Weldon

5/15, 17:16 EDT
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Key Takeaway

  • Gecko Robotics, ranked No. 42 on the 2024 CNBC Disruptor 50 list, uses AI and robots to inspect and predict issues in the US's "D" grade infrastructure.
  • Their technology is applied across critical assets including military hardware, with a focus on enhancing safety and efficiency in maintenance.
  • Gecko's robots can collect up to 20 million data points rapidly, significantly reducing human error and danger in inspections.

Infrastructure in Crisis

The United States is facing a critical juncture with its infrastructure, as recent events have highlighted the vulnerability of its bridges, roads, dams, and other critical assets. The collapse of Baltimore’s Francis Scott Key Bridge and an I-95 overpass in Philadelphia were not due to structural flaws but external incidents. These events underscore the broader issue of aging infrastructure across the nation, which requires trillions of dollars in repairs and upgrades. Despite significant funding from President Biden’s Infrastructure Act, the maintenance approach remains reactive rather than proactive, relying heavily on human intervention after problems arise.

Gecko Robotics' Innovative Solution

In response to the nationwide infrastructure challenge, Gecko Robotics, ranked No. 42 on the 2024 CNBC Disruptor 50 list, is employing AI and robots to revolutionize how infrastructure inspections and maintenance are conducted. Their wall-climbing robots are not only identifying current issues but are also predicting future problems to prevent them. Gecko Robotics’ CEO, Jake Loosararian, highlighted the dire state of U.S. infrastructure, which has a D rating, and the $4 trillion to $6 trillion needed to elevate it to a B rating. The company's technology is monitoring 500,000 of the world's most critical assets, ranging from oil and gas facilities to military hardware like submarines and aircraft carriers.

AI's Role in Powering the Future

The demand for AI is not limited to infrastructure inspection. It is also driving a significant increase in data center power consumption, with Goldman Sachs Research projecting a 160% increase by 2030. This surge necessitates a $50 billion investment in U.S. infrastructure to support the growing power needs, with Europe facing a similar challenge. AI's expanding role in various sectors, including Verizon's network demand growth strategy, underscores the technology's potential to reshape industries by doubling network demand over the next five years.

Revolutionizing Construction with Contractor+

Another disruptor, Contractor+, is leveraging AI to address the technology gap in the $13.57 trillion construction industry. By automating estimating, customer management, and billing processes, Contractor+ is enabling contractors to scale their operations beyond traditional limits. Since January 2020, the platform has managed 75,000 projects and attracted over 800 businesses, demonstrating the transformative potential of AI in streamlining operations and fostering growth within the construction sector.

Management Quotes

  • Jake Loosararian, CEO of Gecko Robotics:

    "When you think about the built world, a lot of concrete, a lot of metal that is, especially in the U.S., 60 to 70 years old; we as a country have a D rating for infrastructure and getting that up to a B is a $4 trillion to $6 trillion problem... A lot of that is understanding what to fix and then targeting those repairs, and then also ensuring that they don’t continue to make the same mistakes." "There’s human error, and if you’re hanging off the side of a ship, it’s pretty dangerous too." "A third of our naval vessels are in drydock right now, and you want them out of drydock or not even in a maintenance cycle... What we’re doing with Lidar and ultrasonic sensors is a health scan, seeing what the damages are and how to fix them because what we’re trying to do is get these ships from drydock out to the seas patrolling as fast as possible." "It’s not just about how things work day-to-day but also how do you build smarter things... If we can understand what fails in the real world, then we can figure out how to build smarter things in the future."