Built Robotics and Sunstate Equipment Co. have formed the industry's first partnership to rent autonomous construction equipment to contractors around the nation. Built Robotics, founded in San Francisco in 2016, is a leading developer of autonomous equipment, including skid steers, compact track loaders, excavators, bulldozers and more. Sunstate Equipment, founded in Phoenix in 1977, is a prominent rental company known for high-quality equipment and dependable service. The partnership between Built and Sunstate is supported by Sumitomo Corporation of Americas, a global industrial leader and parent company of Sunstate, and by its venture capital arm, Presidio Ventures, an investor in Built Robotics.
“Built is thrilled to partner with Sunstate to get our technology in the hands of more customers and remote equipment operators,” said Noah Ready-Campbell, CEO of Built Robotics. “Robotic equipment is a big change, but ultimately it will make construction safer, faster and more productive, and we believe that’s a win for everyone. By enabling customers to rent Built-upgraded equipment from Sunstate, we reduce the barrier to trying this technology out and make it more approachable for contractors and operators around the country.”
“For us, it starts with the customer,” said Chris Watts, CEO of Sunstate Equipment. “If there is a new technology that makes our customers more productive, then it’s up to us to get it into our fleet. We believe Built’s autonomous upgrade kits have the potential to do just that, and we’re excited to partner with them to roll out this technology to our customers.”
Built designs and manufactures an autonomous kit to upgrade off-the-shelf equipment from any brand. The kit allows remote equipment operators to upload job files, at which point the equipment can complete the work on its own. Sunstate will strategically select equipment from its fleet to upgrade, and then make it available for customers. The upgraded equipment can then be run using Built’s autonomous software.
Built and Sunstate will partner to ensure that customers’ personnel receive comprehensive training to run autonomous equipment safely and effectively. Every piece of autonomous equipment uses a three-layer safety system where sensors such as cameras and lidar sense and avoid pedestrians, vehicles and other obstacles; the equipment’s work area is contained within a geofence, which confines movement of the equipment to the designated zone; and the equipment is outfitted with hardwired and wireless emergency stop buttons, enabling the remote equipment operator to stop the vehicle instantly at any time.
The partnership is currently focused on identifying the initial set of equipment and rental locations, and Sunstate will begin offering Built-updraded autonomous equipment to select customers in late 2019 or early 2020.