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Dig Robotics
May 28, 2024 | Katelyn Keenehan

Dig Robotics’ technology improves efficiency and excellence in excavation

Noam Rotem's Dig Robotics is part of cohort three of the Techstars Industries of the Future Accelerator in Knoxville.

Many of the companies participating in the Techstars Industries of the Future Accelerator traveled a long way to spend three months in Knoxville, but none quite as far as Noam Rotem. He flew overseas from Israel.

His company, Dig Robotics has developed a cutting-edge guidance and control system dedicated to improving excavation productivity and efficiency. It reduces cycle time, energy consumption, and greenhouse gas emissions, and improves operator outcomes.

Rotem’s goal is to see his technology programmed into every excavation machine across the United States, and he said Techstars has been a good first step in reaching that goal.

“Overall, I’ve had a very positive experience. I’ve received a lot of support from Techstars and the Knoxville community,” Rotem said.

This isn’t his first go-around with a start-up. With a background in industrial engineering, Rotem has always been interested in creating solutions to problems in the construction industry. He worked with airplanes, automobiles, and other large types of machinery, which led him to launch Syracuse in 2019. It was a start-up that developed autonomous crane operations.

Syracuse was a ground-breaking innovation, perhaps something the broader industry wasn’t prepared to adapt yet. Rotem raised about $2.5 million in investments for Syracuse, but the company was eventually forced to sell in early 2022.

“The sale was very difficult and took an emotional toll. I built Syracuse from the ground up, so it was hard. But I left that situation with a much wider perspective,” he shared.

He wanted to do it again, this time with a more approachable idea: Dig Robotics. He believes it is innovative, yet tangible, manageable, and easier to sell. Plus, this time he (so far) has bootstrapped the whole venture.

So, how can the Dig Robotics software fit into the market? Rotem believes it will be a sought-after solution for site managers, equipment dealers, and rental companies.

“Think about it like a Fitbit for your equipment,” he said. “But, more than that, it provides real-time data for how to operate more efficiently.”

Depending on the research, it can take people anywhere from 100 to 10,000 hours to become proficient and excel at a task. Dig Robotics software works alongside the machine operator, offering suggestions to improve outcomes for people who may be using a machine for the first time or the hundredth time.

This is key in a field like construction, where the turnover rate is generally higher than in other industries.

In addition to helping train new workers, Dig Robotics also keeps site managers more looped in on the health of their equipment. Through Dig Robotics, they can better identify who is using the equipment properly (or improperly).

Rotem said the customer base includes companies that own their excavation machines and rental companies that are constantly allowing people to borrow their expensive equipment.

“I think rental companies are a good place to start because they may want to know who is using and who may be abusing their machines, so they can be more selective about who they rent out to,” he said.

As far as his experience with Techstars, Rotem said it’s been eye-opening, informative, and helpful in the momentum of Dig Robotics.

His Co-Founder for the company is Dr. Oded Medina, who was previously a Syracuse “super employee.” Medina is based in Israel, where Dig Robotics was incorporated.

Ken Gray is the company’s Product Expert, and before joining the Dig Robotics team, he spent 30 years working for Caterpillar. Rotem said Grey brings extensive industry knowledge, connections, and product direction to the team.

While their time in the Techstars accelerator is quickly coming to an end, Rotem said Dig Robotics may be hanging around the Southeast a bit longer.

“It was always part of the plan to move our company to the United States. There’s a lot more industry here that needs our software. Plus, we wanted to potentially relocate to the Southeast due to the construction and building going on in this area,” he said.

Rotem will pitch Dig Robotics to the community at Techstars Demo Day, which is set for 4 to 8 p.m. EDT on June 6 at Regas Square, 333 West Depot Avenue, and the public is invited. To register, click here

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