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Facebook’s VC Backs new Doxel—AI and Computer Vision to Disrupt Construction Industry

Andreessen Horowitz leads investment in Computer Vision and Artificial Intelligence disruptor, Doxel, of Palo Alto.

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The $10 trillion global construction industry—an industry that makes up 13 percent of the global GDP—is looking attractive to the world’s leading venture capitalist (VC) companies as a prime opportunity to disrupt and challenge the status quo.

And for good reason. For decades the construction industry has trailed nearly all other sectors of the economy in productivity gains, despite the digital revolution.

What Doxel Is About

Doxel aims to address this unfortunate trend, by bringing an artificial intelligence (AI) and computer vision-based system that delivers significant productivity increases to commercial construction projects. Doxel will achieve this by using autonomous devices (little robotic rovers) to visually monitor every inch of a project, then feed that data to its proprietary deep learning algorithms.

Key Takeaway

Andreessen Horowitz isn’t just famous for backing bold entrepreneurs like Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, they also have a semi-famous tag line—”software is eating the world.” The tagline is itself a kind of analogy to what Doxel is actually doing by visually consuming the physical world, determining the identity and typology of objects in that world and adding AI-based intelligence to the construction process. 

Doxel will achieve this by using autonomous devices (little robotic rovers) to visually monitor every inch of a project, then feed that data to its proprietary deep learning algorithms.

01 – Doxel uses 3d computer vision and LIDAR to compose its data from which AI algorithms bring intelligent construction progress monitoring.

The algorithms then inspect the quality of the work installed and measure quantities in real time. This enables project managers to react to inefficiencies almost immediately and boost productivity as much as fifty percent.

Big Name Investors

In addition, Doxel announced a $4.5 million investment led by Andreessen Horowitz, with Alchemist Accelerator, Pear Ventures, SV Angel and Steelhead Ventures participating.

“You can’t improve what you can’t measure. Without real-time visibility into quality and progress, managers simply can’t boost productivity. Our turnkey solution literally tracks progress for hundreds of thousands of line items in project budgets and schedules, comparing actual performance to original plans,” said CEO and Co-Founder Saurabh Ladha. “This is transformative for an entire capital project team. With Doxel’s system in place, project managers can react in minutes, not months, increasing productivity by fifty percent and bringing in projects twenty-five percent under budget.”  

Productivity Monitoring

Labor productivity is hard to predict. While managers often know how many person-hours are being spent on a project, they don’t have an accurate measure of how much work is accomplished, or if that work is being done correctly. It isn’t difficult to know why – most construction projects involve several teams that are installing millions of components to high accuracies. With so much to inspect, it’s nearly impossible for managers to track accurately progress. This leads to nasty surprises where managers realize several weeks or months later that they’ve been spending a lot more person-hours or, in other words, more time and money than they expected for a given amount of work.

02 – Doxel can understand what elements of construction are behind schedule by roaming the site with its LIDAR and computer vision cameras.

Doxel uses autonomous devices to monitor a site every day, both outdoors and indoors, with LIDAR and HD cameras. Their proprietary artificial intelligence algorithm then processes this visual data, inspects installation quality, and quantifies how much material has been installed correctly. Doxel’s cloud-based dashboard then provides project managers with real-time feedback on productivity, as well as how actual costs and time spent are comparing to the original budget and schedule. As a result, managers can better control outcomes and keep their projects on time and on budget. This information allows CFOs to get real-time data on earned value for hundreds of thousands of line items in a project budget while enabling field teams to track schedule at a hyper granular level and in real-time.

Groundbreaking Computer Vision Powered by AI

At the heart of Doxel’s solution is a major breakthrough in computer vision software; one that allows artificial intelligence to understand the world not just in 2D, but like people do, in 3D.

 

You can’t improve what you can’t measure. Without real-time visibility into quality and progress, managers simply can’t boost productivity.

 

“Construction projects involve millions of similar-looking components, packed tightly together in a dark environment. It’s a Molotov Cocktail of challenges for computer vision software,” said CTO and Co-Founder Robin Singh. “Usually, the amount of training data such an algorithm would need would be enormous, and even then, the results may not be reliable. With our proprietary 3D semantic algorithms, we’ve been able to get more reliable results with a fraction of the training data. Our algorithms recognize and contextualize objects not just based on color, but also based on shape, location, and size.”

03 – The Doxel system is a software as a service (SaaS) and it runs on every platform including mobile devices and provides text-based alerts even to basic phones. (a basic phone is not shown in this image).

In addition to tracking progress against schedule and budget, Doxel also detects errors almost immediately. As per the Construction Industry Institute, about ten percent of construction time is spent just fixing mistakes. Using a design-intent 3D model that shows the intended location, size, and shape of every component, Doxel can alert managers if field work doesn’t match designs.  

The means to track construction site progress in real time is helpful for foremen, superintendents, project managers, CFOs, and executives – anyone who has a financial stake in increasing job site productivity.

A Canary in a Coal Mine

“If you could have an alarm that went off when your project was going over budget or off course, wouldn’t you want to use it considering the millions of dollars you could save?” asked Lars Dalgaard, General Partner at Andreessen Horowitz. “For an industry that is notorious for cost overruns and delays, we see Doxel as the canary in the coal mine for construction projects. We expect Doxel to help owners and builders increase productivity, save money, and bring projects in on time with the highest levels of quality.”

04 – Doxel works with autonomous rovers outfitted with LIDAR and computer vision and can capture 300,000 square feet of building data per week. One rover is enough per typical large job site.

The construction industry currently manages project inspection through a combination of clipboards, physical measurement, or even simple visual inspection. With Doxel’s real-time, AI-based solution in place, builders and building owners can track progress accurately and in real-time – all while actually reducing the amount of time spent doing these activities manually.

Doxel works with many parties in the construction industry – builders to contractors to project managers, to the building owners themselves: whoever carries the financial risk in the success of a large construction project. Doxel can be deployed at any stage of construction, from the time the first hole in the ground until the keys are handed over.

About Doxel

Palo Alto, CA-based Doxel provides an artificial intelligence and computer vision-based system that delivers significant productivity increases to large-scale commercial construction projects. Doxel uses autonomous devices to visually monitor every inch of a project, then feeds this data to its proprietary deep learning algorithms. The algorithms then inspect the quality of installed work and measure installed quantities in real time. This enables project managers to react to inefficiencies almost immediately and boost productivity as much as fifty percent. For more information, please visit http://www.doxel.ai or follow the company on Twitter @doxel_ai.

Reader Comments

  1. “most construction projects involve several teams that are installing millions of components to high accuracies” As far as I know there is no listing of what those millions of components are in the specifications or the plans of a typical project. There are only general categories of things so it would seem to be quite a challenge to know if the right nuts and bolts are being used or if pushing the contractor is causing the quality of his work to decline.

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