In the past year, more than 30 workers have died in work accidents in Israel, and the previous year saw similar numbers. Despite various measures by the Ministry of Labor for necessary inspections, the number of accidents is not decreasing, and unfortunately more and more workers are losing their lives due to non-compliance with procedures and rules. Those who can help in the struggle are Tal Israel and Yossi Buda, with their startup, Ception, which was unveiled yesterday (Tuesday). Their goal is to improve operational productivity and reduce workplace accidents, especially those that occur while using heavy vehicles on construction sites.
The systems today lead to "the boy who cried wolf"
Ception’s system includes a hardware kit consisting of large vehicles such as tractors and trucks; an alert system for the vehicle operator; and a real-time command and control system for construction site managers. "We have identified a huge need in markets like construction and mining as their existing systems do not provide a solution and sometimes actually interfere with the day-to-day work," explains the company's CEO and one of the founders, Tal Israel. Ception’s system, which uses a set of sensors installed on the vehicle and processes information based on artificial intelligence algorithms, allows an accurate spatial understanding of the vehicles in the environment and of the construction site itself.
Yossi Buda, the company's CTO, says that the use of artificial intelligence comes in several layers and is not just lip service. He said that the AI is integrated at the level of the individual vehicle and the whole site - with dedicated algorithms that extract three-dimensional information based on the sensors, the position of the vehicle in the field (which is determined by computer vision algorithms), identify hazards and safety incidents, and map the worksite.
Buda adds that the system uses a lot of information that comes from the sensors installed on the vehicles, including cameras and navigation sensors, that allegedly “double the work” (in some cases the company integrates LiDAR as part of the system). In practice, these extra precautions (redundancy- which Mobileye also emphasizes for their autonomous vehicles), allow certain sensors to be dispensable. Meaning, that if one sensor turns off, crashes or isn't working correctly, the whole system doesn't suffer, as there are other sensors to make up for it.
Israel tells us that part of their development process included an analysis of past incidents and accidents at construction sites that their system can now prevent. According to him, most of the collision prevention systems that have been used until now are not built for this kind of work environment, and there are many gaps in their implementation. He said that the use of such systems created a situation of "the boy who cried wolf", where there were so many false alarms that the heavy machinery operators decided to simply stop using the systems, which in turn increased the risk of an accident.
He emphasized that one area that their system specializes in is the material loading and uploading process, a process that has led to quite a few accidents in the past. “The system supports the entire process, from the loading stage, through the hauling of the material to the unloading stage. If we focus, for example, on the process of unloading the material, this is a very dangerous scenario during which, unfortunately, many accidents and even falls from great heights occur. The system helps the operator to carry out the unloading process safely,” says Israel. All systems available to field workers are also connected to a broader control system available to job site managers, who receive information on process efficiency and compliance with regulatory requirements in the day-to-day work.
Ception was founded in 2019 by Tal Israel (CEO) and Yossi Buda (CTO), who were developers of smart-car systems for 15 years at GM and IAI (Israel Aerospace Industries). The two developed different autonomous systems, with an emphasis on systems for off-road environments– the environment in which their startup currently operates in, like construction sites, quarries, and mines. The company currently employs 16 people and has raised $7 million to date as part of fundraising led by MoreVC Fund and a grant from the Innovation Authority.