Track big bulldozers with AI to save workers' lives

Track big bulldozers with AI to save workers’ lives

Ultra-precise mapping locates every vehicle in mines, quarries and construction sites

Mines, quarries, construction sites and cement factories can be dangerous places.

Huge bulldozers, earth-moving machines, trucks and excavators are constantly in motion. There is noise, dust, rough terrain and the ever-present risk of vehicles hitting a worker, colliding, overturning or plunging over the edge of a cliff.

A Jerusalem-based startup has developed mapping technology using artificial intelligence that tracks the exact location of every vehicle – and every person – to prevent deaths and other accidents.

MineCept knows the exact location of every vehicle and person. Courtesy

It provides what it calls “complete situational awareness” so site managers have full awareness and drivers receive voice alerts of impending danger.

The problem is simple, Ception CEO Tal Israel tells NoCamels. It is the inefficient and dangerous operation of heavy equipment in harsh environments.

The solution is more complex. It relies on HD (high definition) mapping, which combines real-time data from cameras and sensors on the vehicles, along with GPS and the company’s own visual positioning system.

Operators of huge vehicles, like this one used in surface mines, sit above the ground. Deposit photos

What sets it apart from other on-premises security systems is the accuracy of the data, the flexibility of the software that can be infinitely updated, and the fact that it issues only “genuine” alerts. and very precise. Israel says drivers tend to drive away – or even turn off a system – if it constantly bothers them with false alarms. So their system, Mine Cept, only warns if there is a real need to warn.

The company was founded in 2019 by Israel with Yossi Buda (CTO). They both had experience developing unmanned vehicles and autonomous ground systems and decided to apply their expertise to mobile heavy machinery.

“We face very dangerous operations in very difficult environments,” Israel says. “It’s not ordinary roads, it’s an off-road environment, with lots of blind spots.”

Panoramic photo of Ception on site with heavy machinery. Courtesy

And these are no ordinary vehicles. These monsters can cost $5 million. Their wheels alone can be well over 6 feet tall, and the driver often has to climb a ladder to reach the cab, well above the ground.

Just moving forward can be tricky. Reverse is even trickier. And there are cliffs to overcome. They are “protected” by berms – artificial earthen ridges designed as a buffer. But they are powerful machines, and a tired or distracted driver can drive right through one.

MineCept embeds intelligent AI-powered capabilities into every vehicle. “This allows it to understand the surrounding environment and analyze all aspects of dynamic objects such as people or other trucks,” Israel says.

“And then in real time we are able to collect and analyze data from the surrounding environment. Based on this analysis and data, we provide information to the operator, who has a screen in the cabin. We provide them with alerts and guidance related to their mission and goals.

Alerts are voice and visual at the moment, but the company is developing “automatic braking capabilities”, meaning it could automatically bring the vehicle to a stop to avoid a collision.

“And at the same time, we also upload the data of the entire fleet to our server to transmit to the operations managers, the maintenance team and other relevant employees,” Israel explains.

Excavator in a coal mine. Deposit photos

“We also share raw data, which can be the number of accidents, the number of near misses or any other statistics about the operation.”

Collision warning capabilities have been around for more than 20 years, he says, but operators are getting beeps all day. Many are false positives and they end up shutting down the system.

The idea is to use deep learning and other analytics to only provide them with very selective and very precise alerts, and only in situations of real danger.

“The core technology we are developing allows us to understand the surrounding environment with more accurate and precise methods based on computer vision, deep learning, and other similar technologies,” Israel explains.

The Ception team, based in Jerusalem. Courtesy

As technology evolves, he and his team update existing hardware already installed on vehicles. “It’s like buying a smartphone,” he says. “And you choose the apps you want. We are developing more and more applications to improve the safety and productivity of our customers.

MineCept is not just about saving lives or preventing injuries. This is to avoid the total shutdown of a site after an accident, which can be extremely costly. And it’s about greater efficiency.

With its precision mapping capabilities, Ception can choreograph the way operators dump their load in a mine or quarry so they work smarter and faster – reducing the time they take, as well as the fuel they spend. ‘they use and CO2 emissions, up to 40 percent. hundred.

Ception works with chemical company ICL, which mines phosphates for fertilizers in the Negev desert, and has just received an undisclosed amount of strategic investment from civil and marine engineering group Shapir.

“Using our system means that you can, in a very simple way, save lives. This is the first priority and motivation for us,” says Israel.

“If at the same time we are able to save money for our customers and do good business, that’s the bonus.”

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