HOUSTON – The International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) and Built Robotics today announced a multi-year strategic partnership agreement. The partnership will establish a training program to prepare the more than 400,000 IUOE members to oversee and manage robotic equipment, as well as work alongside autonomously operating vehicles.
Built Robotics will provide its guidance systems to the IUOE’s International Training & Education Center (ITEC), located near Houston. The ITEC offers IUOE members a 265-acre campus, a full lineup of heavy equipment from leading manufacturers, mechanics shops, vehicle simulators, and more. The Built Robotics guidance systems will be the latest technology to be added to the curriculum, and IUOE members will be trained to install, operate, and repair robots in realistic job site conditions.
Access to training
“This is a first-of-its-kind partnership between the IUOE and a technology company, and it will enable our members access to programs and training to keep them at the forefront of skilled craft work,” said James T. Callahan, general president of the IUOE. “We are proud to bring Built Robotics technology to the ITEC and equip our members with the skills they need to be successful in the 21st century.”
Both groups are showcasing Built’s autonomous equipment at the CONEXPO/CON-AGG 2020 conference in Las Vegas, where attendees can remotely control an autonomous excavator digging at the ITEC facility thousands of miles away.
“We are honored to partner with the IUOE, one of the largest and most historic labor organizations in North America,” said Noah Ready-Campbell, CEO of Built Robotics. “At the end of the day, robots are just tools in the hands of skilled operators, and we believe that the best-trained workers equipped with our technology will fundamentally change the future of construction. Together we can build and maintain the critical infrastructure our country needs.”
Built Robotics’ mission is to build robots that will build the world, the company said. It works on upgrading off-the-shelf heavy equipment with AI guidance systems, enabling those machines to operate fully autonomously. The robots are deployed across the $1 trillion earth-moving industry, and are being used to help build remote infrastructure, including wind farms, solar farms, and oil & gas pipelines. The company raised $33 million in September 2019 in Series B funding, with more than $100 million in customer commitments. The IUOE represents hoisting and portable engineers who work in the construction industry as heavy equipment operators, mechanics, surveyors, welders and drivers; and stationary engineers, who maintain operate and repair building and industrial complexes and service industries. The union’s approximately 402,000 members are located in 109 local unions across the U.S. and Canada.
The global construction robot market is expected to be $190 million by the end of 2025, according to a report by Infoholic Research. Robots in the space include 3D printing robots, demolition robots, bricklaying robots, and autonomous construction vehicles and equipment.