AI Robots with Purpose with Jake Loosararian of Gecko Robotics | E1947

AI Robots with Purpose with Jake Loosararian of Gecko Robotics | E1947

Jake Loosararian of Gecko Robotics joins Jason. (00:00:00)

  • Jake Loosararian, CEO of Gecko Robotics, joins Jason.
  • Building new things has a lot of appeal, but there are many issues to address today.
  • Using specific robots for specific jobs is a practical approach to earn the right to build more advanced robots.
  • The business model must incentivize CEOs and CFOs to see the value of industry 4.0 principles and tools.
  • Many AI companies come in promising to revolutionize businesses but fail to deliver due to incorrect ground truth.
  • Autonomous robots with built-in AI are coming and will change the world.
  • Gecko Robotics is a company that has been working on autonomous robots.
  • Jason invites viewers to watch the video version of the podcast on YouTube to see what Gecko Robotics is building.

The purpose-designed robots being built at Gecko. (00:03:01)

  • Jake Loosararian, founder of Gecko Robotics, started building robots in college to address the critical need for inspecting and maintaining infrastructure.
  • The company's robots are designed for specific tasks, such as climbing up and inspecting buildings, rather than being general-purpose humanoids.
  • The robots are needed because the built world is aging and deteriorating, and we don't have enough data on its condition.
  • Gecko's customer base is primarily infrastructure owners and operators in the United States.
  • The US has a significant infrastructure deficit, with 3.34% of GDP spent on fighting corrosion alone.
  • The infrastructure was not built for the current level of traffic and loads, leading to increased stress and the need for regular inspections and maintenance.
  • Gecko's robots are used for inspections in various industries, including infrastructure, energy, defense, and manufacturing.
  • The company generates revenue by selling or leasing its robots and providing data analytics and maintenance services.

Origin story behind Jake’s startup. (00:07:03)

  • Jake noticed that technologists and startups often overlook the world of energy, manufacturing, defense, and public infrastructure.
  • He observed the challenges faced by inspectors in the power sector, such as repelling up and down structures like the Golden Gate Bridge and nuclear reactors, which is dangerous and expensive.
  • Inspectors' salaries are relatively low, ranging from $30 to $70 per hour, or around $60,000 annually.
  • Jake realized the importance of understanding structural and material science, corrosion types, and different types of steels and concretes in these industries.
  • Predicting and preventing catastrophic failures is crucial for environmental and functional reasons, as well as for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Jake encountered a problem of power plants experiencing shutdowns and a related fatality during his college years.

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  • Without SOC 2 compliance, sales teams may face difficulties in closing major deals.
  • Vanta simplifies the process of obtaining and renewing SOC 2 compliance, enabling companies to become compliant in just two to four weeks compared to the usual three to five months.
  • Vanta can save companies hundreds of hours of work and up to 85% on compliance costs.
  • Vanta also automates up to 90% of compliance for GDPR, HIPAA, and more.

Show us the robots! (00:10:38)

  • Gecko Robotics develops AI-powered robots that can climb surfaces and collect data using ultrasonic sensors.
  • These robots are designed to inspect critical infrastructure, such as missile silos, power plants, and dams, for structural integrity issues.
  • The robots can be equipped with different payloads to detect specific types of damage, including corrosion, cracking, or erosion.
  • Gecko Robotics is collaborating with the governor of Pennsylvania to create an advanced bridge evaluation and infrastructure process using their technology.

Details on the frequency of needed infrastructure inspections. (00:17:43)

  • Bridges should be thoroughly inspected every 5 years.
  • Fixed sensors that are enabled by Wi-Fi or 5G can constantly update a digital twin with information about the asset's health and performance.
  • A digital twin is a three-dimensional representation of an asset in software that needs to be continually updated with information.
  • A company that manufactures toilet paper wanted to extend the useful life of their tanks.
  • Gecko Robotics came in and assessed the tanks and determined that they could last 10-20 years longer with proper repairs.
  • This information was obtained through the company's vast database of information on the health and structural integrity of critical infrastructure assets.

DevSquad - Get an entire product team for the cost of one US developer plus 10% off (00:19:24)

  • Dev Squad provides complete product teams with top-tier talent from Latin America at a significantly reduced cost compared to US-based teams.
  • Digital twins continuously monitor critical assets using sensors to detect potential issues and prevent failures.
  • Gecko Robotics transitioned from a robot-as-a-service model to a value-creation model, providing data and insights to customers through their enterprise software platform, Canever.
  • By becoming experts in robotics, AI, software, and their customers' industries, Gecko Robotics offers comprehensive solutions that extend the lifespan of assets, shifting the business model from selling robots or inspections to providing value.

The value of “bear hugging” your key customers. (00:23:39)

  • To understand customer needs deeply, spend time on-site with them.
  • This approach, called "bear hugging," can lead to valuable insights and epiphany moments.
  • Insights gained from "bear hugging" can be codified into a business model.
  • Founders Fund sends out engineers on deployments as an implementation team of software.
  • Engineers work alongside customers to understand their problems and create software modules tailored to their needs.
  • This approach addresses the complexity and communication challenges in industries like power plants and manufacturing.
  • It also helps bridge the knowledge gap created by the phasing out of experienced personnel.
  • Gecko Robotics combines the learnings from deploying roboticists with deployed software engineers.
  • They build a vertically integrated stack of data collection (data layers) and pull it into a single source of truth (data warehouse).
  • This enables the delivery of software modules that solve customer problems.
  • The process involves working alongside customers to convert them from their current systems (often involving manual processes and disparate systems) to the new system.

Bridging physical and digital with Gecko’s Cantilever digital twins. (00:27:42)

  • Gecko Robotics uses digital twins to increase the life extension of structures and manage multiple structures simultaneously.
  • Customers send metadata related to the structures to Gecko Robotics.
  • Gecko Robotics builds a 3D representation of the structure using the provided dimensions.
  • Robots climb the structures and evaluate their health while they are in operation.
  • The robots pulse the area they are climbing over hundreds of times per inch to collect data.
  • The data is used to assess the structural soundness and health of the structure.
  • The data can be analyzed in various ways, including looking at the mean health of an area or labeling the data set to identify specific types of corrosion.

Hubspot for Podcast Networks - The Next Wave: “The Large Language Model Race with Pete Huang, Founder of The Neuron” episode (00:29:36)

  • The podcast "The Next Wave" hosted by Bat Wolf and Nathan L, provides insights and advice on how to use AI to grow businesses.
  • The episode "The Large Language Model Race" with Peter Wang covers AI developments, trends, and research, including the impact of AI on creativity, industries like music and entrepreneurship, and the balance between innovation and ethics.
  • Gecko Robotics provides AI-powered robots for industrial inspections, helping companies reduce costs and improve safety.
  • The company's robots can be used in hazardous environments and can perform tasks such as evaluating the structural integrity of storage tanks.
  • Gecko Robotics uses data from inspections to create digital twins of assets, which helps customers understand where to make repairs and extend the life of their assets.

Extending the value of inspections with fixed sensors. (00:33:50)

  • Jake Loosararian, CEO of Gecko Robotics, discusses the use of AI robots for inspection and maintenance tasks in various industries, particularly in critical infrastructure such as nuclear submarines and ships.
  • Fixed sensors monitor structural integrity and detect corrosion, which can occur rapidly due to changes in chemical composition or environmental factors.
  • Robots are used for day-one inspections of newly installed equipment and for inspecting submarines during construction to ensure quality and adherence to schedule.
  • Digital twins of submarines and battleships are created to monitor weld quality and prevent delays.
  • Gecko Robotics is working with the US Air Force to inspect and maintain concrete in nuclear missile silos using robots that climb and assess the silos' condition.
  • The Sentinel program focuses on addressing concrete decay and preventing oxidation explosions in Cold War-era nuclear deterrent systems.
  • The goal is to transition from using robots in conjunction with human inspectors to fully autonomous robots that can inspect and monitor structures without human supervision.
  • Integrating sensors into structures during construction allows for the creation of continuously updated digital twins to monitor asset health and integrity, reducing maintenance time and cost while improving efficiency and performance.
  • A proactive and data-driven approach to maintenance optimizes resource allocation and ensures the longevity and reliability of critical infrastructure.
  • The business model for AI robots should focus on paying for uptime produced rather than service performed.
  • Learning from existing equipment in daily use is crucial for building new infrastructure.
  • Focusing on specific robots for specific jobs is necessary to earn the right to build more advanced robots.
  • AI and software solutions should be built on data collected by robots and smart sensors to affect large business outcomes.
  • Customers should buy the outcome, not just the robots, and the outcome should address the customer's significant challenges.
  • Robots and sensors play vital roles in solving real-world problems.
  • The progress made in robotics and sensor technology is remarkable.

Opening up the conversation to the AI data collected. (00:46:47)

  • AI can process vast amounts of data from critical assets, providing insights that humans may not be able to obtain quickly.
  • Gecko Robotics has collected data on over 500,000 critical assets and uses it to train machine learning models for damage detection and failure prediction.
  • This data can inform manufacturers and installation companies on improving critical infrastructure design, construction, and maintenance, leading to increased efficiency and extended asset lifespans.
  • Insurance companies are interested in this data for better risk assessment and management of critical assets.
  • Jake Loosararian, Gecko Robotics founder, discusses the potential for different insurance profiles based on maintenance levels and sensor usage on industrial equipment.
  • Insurance companies are collaborating with Gecko Robotics to develop new insurance models based on sensor data and maintenance records.
  • Many robotics and software companies fail in the industrial sector due to venture capitalists' lack of understanding of these industries.
  • The success of companies like Tesla, SpaceX, Uber, and Airbnb has made "real world" industries more attractive to investors.

Why some robotics companies fail while others succeed. (00:54:44)

  • To build useful robots, it's crucial to understand customer needs and collaborate closely to solve their problems.
  • Startups should embed themselves with customers, especially in highly regulated industries, to gain insights and develop tailored solutions that address specific pain points and offer significant benefits.
  • The potential impact and value of a solution should be considered when evaluating its importance, with industries like space exploration and self-driving cars having higher stakes compared to others.
  • Startups can provide substantial value to large companies by offering innovative solutions that tackle critical challenges and generate significant cost savings, with the customer receiving the most benefit from technology adoption.
  • Large organizations, particularly in sectors like manufacturing, need assistance in navigating technology adoption options.
  • A clear model that outlines product-market fit, the problem to be solved, data layer addition, and information collection is necessary to encourage more startups in the robotics sector.
  • Humanoid robots and walking dog robots offer valuable data layers for solving large-scale client problems.
  • The future of robotics will encompass a diverse range of robots, from small burrito-carrying ones to advanced robots like C-3PO and R2-D2.

The “BOM” of current and future robots. (01:02:14)

  • The cost of materials for specialized robots, like bomb disposal robots, can be close to six figures, while the cost of materials for a functional robot capable of tasks like walking a dog or doing dishes is estimated to be around $40,000 in five years.
  • Major costs in building a robot include actuators, compute, and certifications for specific environments, with fine dexterity being a particularly challenging and expensive aspect of robot development.
  • Renting robots for daily tasks could be a viable business model due to the potential value creation and cost savings, with a potential rental price of $20 per day.
  • Jake Loosararian, from Gecko Robotics, believes that optimizing robotics can lead to remarkable achievements and approaches robotics with the mindset of optimizing their capabilities to perform impressive tasks.

Where humanoid robots may first be “employed”. (01:06:29)

  • Robots can be deployed in hazardous industries like deep-sea welding, logging, and construction to reduce human exposure and potential legal issues.
  • Robots can collect data during walkdowns in refineries to identify potential issues that could lead to accidents or inefficiencies.
  • The information collected by robots can be used to improve overall processes and efficiency in various industries.
  • AI robots can be used for infrastructure inspection and maintenance, helping to prevent disasters like building collapses.
  • Robots can collect data on population density, traffic patterns, and emissions to improve city planning and reduce pollution.
  • The oil and gas manufacturing sector can reduce emissions by 18% by 2030 by using robots to prevent critical asset failures.

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