Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania-based RoadBotics is a company that uses advanced computer vision technology to inspect roads and infrastructure. The company has raised $3.9 million in a seed round of funding led by Boston-based Hyperplane Venture Capital. With this round of funding, RoadBotics plans to revolutionize the way that engineering firms, local governments, and municipalities manage roadways and infrastructure.
RoadBotics is currently assessing roadways for 78 cities, towns, and counties across the US and Australia. RoadBotics spun out of the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University in December 2016 and the company grew out of Carnegie Mellon’s extensive research in autonomous vehicles. And RoadBotics was founded by Christoph Mertz, Ph.D., Benjamin Schmidt, Ph.D., and Mark DeSantis.
How does RoadBotics work? RoadBotics uses a proprietary app and smartphone that is placed on the windshield of vehicles to collect roadway image data. This image data is uploaded to the RoadBotics platform where deep learning is applied to isolate the road from other objects in each of the image and it assesses the road conditions. And a condition rating is applied for each road surface based on the presence, type, and density of the road surface and features and distresses that pavement engineers are able to recognize when visually inspecting roads. And RoadBotics is able to render the complete assessment on its online mapping platform called RoadWay.
“Continuously monitoring a road network is a hard job, particularly when they can stretch for thousands of miles. It is costly and time-intensive to put trained engineers out on the road to perform assessments,” said Schmidt, who is also the CTO of RoadBotics. “Improving the quality of the world’s roads is one of the most viable ways to utilize automated, low-cost, high resolution inspection technology and RoadBotics is leading the way.”
The city of Savannah, Georgia is currently using RoadBotics as the foundation for its data-driven infrastructure strategy. And RoadBotics has been seeing tremendous growth in customers from local governments, counties, and engineering firms since securing its first customer in June 2017.
“RoadBotics will allow us to better assess the overall condition of city roadways and increase the accuracy of the data collected, ultimately enabling us to more effectively manage our infrastructure replacement,” explained Savannah’s Chief Infrastructure and Development Officer Heath Lloyd,. “Our goal is to use our resources as efficiently as possible. RoadBotics helps us accomplish that by enhancing our ability to better plan and implement city-wide roadway replacement schedules.”
In Australia, RoadBotics is working with the Fulton Hogan engineering company. Fulton Hogan works with RoadBotics’ clients to save time and resources by eliminating the need to send engineering crews into the field for weeks at a time to visually inspect pavement. With RoadBotics, these engineers are able to gather high quality data in less time.
“Because of our success to date, customers are asking us to assess and rate a wide variety of other objects on or along the roadway such as guard rails, signs and utility lines. The venture funding from Hyperplane and others is enabling us to expand our vision and meet the needs of our customers,” added DeSantis — who is also the CEO of RoadBotics. “We’re very excited about the faith our venture partners have placed in us and looking forward to expanding the use of our technology and reaching new customers.”