When Pittsburgh’s Fern Hollow Bridge collapsed with morning traffic over it early this year, many Pittsburgh residents–including this writer–taken it personally. Until a few years ago, for many years I lived five blocks from that bridge, walked for days across it several times a day, and watched it rust and rot away as city workers seemed to turn a blind eye to obvious maintenance needs.
founders Mach9 robots In Pittsburgh I also felt aversion to the bridge’s catastrophic failure, which would have been fatal. The bridge is located near the Carnegie Mellon campus (which was attended by the founders of Mach9), crosses a valley in one of the city’s “cool” nature parks, and near Regent’s Square, a small business district frequented by Carnegie Mellon students. Many Pittsburghs traversed it or exercised under it, so many wondered how close they would be to walk over a bridge collapsing under it, or to fall on them in the quiet valley below.
The shock of seeing a Fern Hollow Bridge pie on itself on the same day that President Joe Biden was in town to give a speech about his infrastructure plan spurred the Mach9 Robotics staff into action.
“We started Mach9 to develop technology to prevent infrastructure failures. After seeing how our technology could be applied to bridges and seeing Fern Hollow Bridge collapse just miles from our office and where we went in college, we were motivated to be part of the solution to the problem of our country’s deteriorating bridge infrastructure, And we launched Pittsburgh Bridge Initiativesaid Alexander Bekovitz, co-founder and CEO of Mach9 Robotics. “The Pittsburgh Project has helped us improve our mapping technology to provide our business and government clients with powerful, accurate, and fast insights from the built world.”
In late 2021, Mach9 Robotics soon established its own effort called the Pittsburgh Bridge Initiative to solve the kind of problem in maintaining infrastructure as evidenced by the Fern Hollow Bridge. The initiative will map each of the 450 bridges in Pittsburgh while providing a use case for exposure of the company’s technology.
Using ground and air vehicles and by correlating visual, spatial, inertial, GPS and radar data, Mach9 Robotics builds high-resolution maps of the infrastructure partly for predictive analytics. If this new technology is the success its founders hope it will be, it should be able to predict the next Fern Hollow crash long before it happens, saving taxpayers money and possibly some lives.
“We have built our own 3D mapping and geospatial computer vision software, which we are actively scaling up with various surveying, civil engineering and utility services companies,” Baikowitz said.
Bekovitz said the current situation of capturing reality with respect to our infrastructure across the country leaves plenty of room for improvement, but it is getting better.
“We see reality-capture technology continue to advance in the field of transportation infrastructure. However, the problem of infrastructure assessment is much bigger than creating 3D models and renderings.” Mach9 provides solutions to help make real-world data more actionable and help decision makers understand the health of their infrastructure.”
The question of whether most cities and municipalities are making progress in digitizing their blueprints and other infrastructure documents is almost unimportant, Bekovitz said.
“Progress varies from city to city, but we find it extremely important to question the accuracy of this information,” Baikowitz said. “Mach9 has focused on underground utility infrastructure, and the thing we have learned by working with various utilities and municipalities around the world is that the documents generated are sometimes inaccurate and outdated.”
Mach 9 Robotics has partnered with AEC companies and government agencies to work on its platform, but how confident are they that local officials will take full advantage of these updated documents they will submit to the bridges? After all, the tool is only good if it is used.
“Our team has focused on working directly with our customers to build meaningful technology. We are excited to work with engineering companies, transportation departments, and municipalities to extract actionable information from geospatial data to improve organizational efficiency and help leaders make data-driven decisions for the health and safety of our communities,” said Bykovitz. .
The adoption of the company’s platform is supposed to be accomplished quickly. Ease of use is a key feature of the Mach9 platform.
“Our technology fits directly into existing inspections and does not require massive changes or substantial training for organizations to adopt new digital geospatial solutions,” Bekovitz said.
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