Autonomous tech & construction | TN lands Facebook data center | Pitt’s healthcare startups
“We shape our buildings; thereafter, they shape us.” — Winston Churchill
August 20, 2020
Caterpillar at forefront of high-tech construction
Image courtesy Caterpillar
Advancements in technology have always driven construction forward. Without the advent of heavy equipment, for example, laborers would still be excavating sites and digging trenches with shovels.
Now research from the Construction Institute validates that the adoption of proven technology can improve construction industry productivity by 30-45%, as well as improved material predictability and reliability.
Caterpillar, the Deerfield, IL-based company that makes excavators, backhoes, tractors, and turbines has always been a leader in the construction industry but now the company is a whole new meaning to “machine learning.”
Take, for example, the autonomous mining truck. While Tesla and other carmakers are perfecting autonomous cars, mining equipment doesn’t have to navigate public roadways, and Caterpillar has been working on autonomous mining for 30 years. To date, it has built 280 autonomous mining trucks that have hauled more than 2 billion tons with no injuries.
Their “Cat Command” suite of products offers remote-control operation of such tasks as bulldozing. While that may sound a little sci-fi-ish, it can keep human drivers out of potentially dangerous situations. They can switch to remote operation and avoid falling off a cliff or into a quarry.
The company is also using machine learning to predict downtime and mechanical problems with its equipment. Using data they have collected, the machine-learning models and sensors can alert a customer before a piece of equipment fails, saving time and money.
At 95 years old, Caterpillar is on the cutting edge of construction technology.
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Facebook data center coming to Tennessee
Speaking of construction, Facebook is building an $800 million data center in Gallatin, TN, about 30 miles northeast of Nashville. The announcement follows three years of recruitment by state and local economic development officials and the Tennessee Valley Authority.
Ribbon-cutting ceremony marks the launch of Indy’s 16 Tech
Developers and Indianapolis city officials recently gathered for the official opening of the 16 Tech Innovation District and celebrated the completion of its first building, dubbed Innovation Building 1.
The 120,000-square-foot facility, which carries a $33 million price tag, will be home to Indiana Biosciences Research Institute and IU School of Medicine researchers, among others.
The district aims to lure scientists, engineers, designers, and researchers to Indy and, according to an economic impact study, will create 3,000 new jobs.
FLYOVER U RESEARCH
Pitt spinouts make impact on healthcare
Spinouts from the University of Pittsburgh are making an impact on healthcare, both in fighting the coronavirus pandemic and in other areas of medicine. Here are a few of the startups making waves:
Alung Technologies, develops advanced medical devices for treating respiratory failure. It recently received emergency use status from the FDA for its artificial lung devices, which can help patients avoid mechanical ventilation.
AxoMax Technologies, a spinout from Pitt professor Dr. Kacey Marra, has developed a nerve guide that repairs large nerve gaps incurred in auto accidents or war.
Vivasc Therapeutics is the brainchild of biology professor and cardiologist Dr. Maliha Zahid. Her company won a $327,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health to develop a drug to target heart arrhythmia.
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U-M startup focuses on nano-LEDs
You would be excused if, upon hearing the words “next-generation light-emitting diodes,” you responded with a blank stare.
But what if that technology could make your mobile phone’s display brighter and sharper, while drawing only half the power? Now we’ve got your attention!
A University of Michigan startup called NS Nanotech, which is based on research by Zetian Mi, a U-M professor of electrical engineering and computer science, is focused on new methods for growing nano-LEDs. The research will enable a new generation of green LEDs, which represents a significant innovation in the industry.
Mi says his work will “enable more directional, more stable and more saturated light emission.”
Using bubbles to diagnose brain cancer?
Researchers at Washington University in St. Louis are pioneering a noninvasive technique for diagnosing brain cancer. The key is to briefly open the blood-brain barrier to allow cancer biomarkers to be released into blood circulation for testing.
To open that barrier, the scientists are using microbubbles—tiny gas bubbles encased in a greasy shell. The bubbles are injected (in pigs; human trials are a ways off) and they find their way to the brain. Then researchers apply low-frequency ultrasound which cause the bubbles to pop, creating tiny tears in the barrier.
Lead researcher Hong Chen recently received a four-year $2.5 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to help further the study.
FUELING THE FUTURE
Ann Arbor cybersecurity raised $15M
Censys, a cybersecurity company in Ann Arbor, raised $15.5 million in Series A funding. GV and Decibel led the round and were joined by Greylock Partners.
Funding round led by TitletownTech
Allergy Amulet, a Madison, WI-based company with a portable allergen sensor, raised $3.3 million in seed funding. TitletownTech, a joint venture between Microsoft and the Green Bay Packers, led the round.
Mission Control, a St. Louis-based B2B SaaS platform for recreational league esports, raised $1.8 million in seed funding. Dundee Venture Capital led the round and was joined by M25, Cultivation Capital, and MATH Venture Partners.
The Bee Corp, an Indy-based company that develops solutions for commercial bee pollination, has received investments totaling $1 million from Elevate Ventures, THRIVE, IU Ventures, and other existing and new angel investors.
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