ZIPPING AROUND LIKE a bumblebee, the little black-and-yellow tractor claws its bucket into one of San Francisco’s few vacant lots, kicking up a puff of dust. Payload secured, it backs up—beep, beep, beep—whips around, and speeds to its dirt pile, stopping so quickly that it tips forward on two wheels. It drops its quarry and backs up—beep, beep, beep—then speeds back to its excavation for another bucketful.
Atop the tractor is, of all things, a cargo carrier, like one you’d put on your car. But instead of carrying camping gear, it’s packed with electronics. Because no one is sitting in this Bobcat tractor—it’s operating itself, autonomously zipping around a lot lined with 4,500-pound concrete blocks. You know, for the safety of the community.
A startup called Built Robotics is testing the future of construction.