Radar – Our selection of innovative businesses #2

EDF’s investment to increase its battery electricity storage capacity, a robot worksite photographer, weather forecasts to assist city management, an app for worksite materials delivery – here’s the second edition of Radar, our new column on the main innovative deals in construction, mobility and the sustainable city.

EDF buys Pivot Power to develop its charging stations technology for electric vehicles

The British start-up, specialized in electric energy storage, was acquired early November by EDF Renewables, one of EDF’s subsidiaries. It has a 2 GW of storage capacity in the UK and is working on a battery capable of exporting 50 MW to provide support for fast electric vehicle chargers.

This acquisition contributes to EDF’s Electricity storage plan, which calls for the company to install 10GW in additional storage in Europe by 2035 and provide power to 600 000 EVs by 2022. EDF is betting big on smart charging (V2G) capable of redistributing electricity from batteries into homes networks to reduce the cost of recharge.

Other competitors such as Total and Engie are also aiming at the electric vehicle chargers market. In total, it is estimated that Europe would need 2.8 million charging stations by 2030 (145,000 today).

Boston Dynamics and Holo Builder join forces to make robots ready to document construction jobsites

Holo Builder (offering solutions to document construction site progress) and Boston Dynamics  have announced a new app called SpotWalk that let users guide remotely Spot, the famous dog-like Boston Dynamics’ robot, to document a construction site. 

After a first learning phase, the dog-size robot can capture 360-degree images and record construction progress autonomously. Capturing jobsite progress is a time-consuming task usually executed once a week by workers. The robot can do it twice a day on its own to make information even more accurate. Captured images are analyzed by Holo Builder’s artificial intelligence and can provide insights to stakeholders on planning, anticipating delays and help to create faster reportings.

Hensel Phelps, a major contractor in the USA, used it for the first time during a $1.2 billion construction project in San Francisco International Airport. 

Holo Builder is facing a tough competition from Plan Grid and Rhumbix that offer the same kind of productivity tools that document construction site progress. It’s betting on cutting-edge technology like Boston Dynamics to keep the lead.

 

Cities begin to use hyperlocal weather forecasts from startups to be more efficient

Hyperlocal and precise weather forecasts provided by a range of new startups are now being used by city planners to save money. The american company ClimaCell, which has raised $75m in funding, uses signals from cell towers, video from street cameras, data from smart cars, and information from drones and airplanes to make hyperlocal weather maps. ClimaCell helps airlines, pro sports teams and cities.

The city of Montreal spent nearly $145 million last winter to clear 14 million cubic meters of snow from its streets. ClimaCell helps cities like Montreal in North America or monsoon-­prone cities in India to reduce costs by forecasting accumulation, road conditions, and the parts of a city that will be most affected and disrupted. Weather tech startups are a hot market : PlanetIQ raised $18.7m this year to build out its constellation of weather satellites and Saildrone raised $60m to build out its global fleet of oceangoing, weather data-collecting drone ships.

Renorun is raising $17 million to deliver building materials faster to jobsites

Renorun, a Canadian app that delivers construction materials to contractors (small and big companies), just raised $17.1 million to accelerate its growth in the USA and Canada.

The service says it can deliver building supplies to jobsites in two hours for a flat rate of $60 plus cost of materials in Montreal, Toronto and Austin for now.

Renorun helps to reduce time spent by workers on purchasing new materials for the job during the day. In the end, companies save on time and labor costs. The app service has grown by more than 300% in one year and has multiplied its workforce by nine in just seven months.

Renorun is not the only applications targeting the market : Toolbx, Curri and GoFor offer similar on-demand materials delivery services. The aim is to bring more flexibility to contractors offering an uber-like service. The potential is huge : the construction industry creates nearly $1.3 trillion worth of structures each year in the USA only.

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