Rebar tying robot completes 11,000 ties in one day on Florida bridge

The rebar-tying robot, TyBot, has achieved a new personal best record for 2022 for the number of ties on a single shift, according to its creator, Pittsburgh-based Advanced Construction Robotics (ACR).

Over the course of a work day, TyBot completed 11,044 ties, averaging more than 1,100 an hour, on Bridge 8a of the Florida Department of Transportation’s Gateway Expressway megaproject, which is adding a pair of four-lane elevated tolled roadways in Clearwater, west of Tampa.

The robot, deployed by Florida bridge rebar contractor Shelby Erectors, automatically locates and carries out rebar ties without a break and in any weather, day or night, thus relieving people of repetitive, back-breaking work. Its robotic arm, rigged to a gantry, uses machine vision to navigate bridge decks.

“A shift like this makes a real difference,” said Shelby Erectors’ chief operations officer Jack Nix. “When TyBot is moving this quickly, our crews are able to focus our full efforts on more complicated work. TyBot handling over 11,000 ties in a shift provides much-needed relief to us as our crews are pressured by labour shortages and schedules.”

The shift was TyBot’s best since 15 March 2021, when it logged 13,402 ties in one day. Still to beat is a previous record of 16,000 ties in a single shift. However, those shifts were longer than on the Gateway Expressway project.

Genesis of the Tybot

TyBot is the brainchild of Stephen Muck, chair and chief executive of heavy civils contractor, Brayman Construction Corporation. He recruited robotics experts from the National Robotics Engineering Center at Carnegie Mellon University to design a rebar-tying robot to counter chronic labour shortages.

In 2017 Muck co-founded ACR to commercialise the concept with Jeremy Searock, formerly of the National Robotics Engineering Center.

In January 2018, ACR raised $4m from investors, including other heavy civils contractors, equipment dealers, and a labour union. The plan was first to lease machines to contractors and later to sell them.

“Shifts like this don’t happen overnight,” said Jeremy Searock, ACR co-founder and chief technology officer. “Like a rodbuster honing their skills over time, this achievement is the result of years of real work on real job sites. Our team of world-class innovators is developing the future of construction equipment, and creating modern job sites where teams of humans and robots work together to get the job done.”

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