Brisbane-based company Voltin is making buildings safer, through a more accurate and efficient building inspection process that employs artificial intelligence (AI).
Launched in late 2020 Voltin uses artificial intelligence and machine learning (AIML) to identify defects in buildings; providing early results that can help resolve possible structural and maintenance issues in the future.
Director of Voltin, Stephen Thornton says, “Voltin will provide owners with a building health check. It’s faster, cheaper, and far more accurate than the existing process.”
Building defect and dilapidation reports have long been dominated by engineering firms, but Mr Thornton is hoping their technology will significantly disrupt the field.
Through a practice they call the “Voltin System”, the process entails “a thorough inspection of a building’s exterior to spot defects using AIML” says Thornton. These defects can include cracks, chips, dampness, improperly leveled surfaces, and other issues that could compromise a property.
The Voltin System uses AutoBat2.0 (Autonomous Building Assessment Tool) – a data capture device that uses geotagged RGB and thermal imagery to identify specific spaces that may have defects. The device then utilises AIML technology to compare thermal and RGB images alongside satellite location information to confirm the stability of a structure.
The RGB identification system in AutoBat2.0 analyzes concrete, glass, metal, and other surface compounds to automatically find defects. From here, any identifiable defects are mapped on to the building model, and data is sent to the digital building report.
Not only will the technology aim to speed up and simplify the reporting and repairing of defects, but it also seeks to provide landlords and property managers with important information on their building’s integrity in the safest manner possible.
Traditional façade assessments require inspectors to climb ladders, structures, and manually and physically review. In addition to the process being dangerous for inspectors, it is also difficult to create an accurate readout this way.
Whilst drone technology has created a safer approach to building inspections, there are some restrictions on when and where drones can be used. For example, drones cannot be used in controlled airspace areas, plus some regulations limit their use in populated sites.
AutoBat2.0 uses metadata from satellite-based GPS reports and compares it with the results the device gathers during an analysis. This point works around the issue of drones not being capable of collecting GPS data due to the shrouding effect created by a tall building. AIML helps the system check all reports, using the most recent information when comparing defects.
AutoBat2.0 can also be deployed vertically, ensuring an inspection can occur without breaking drone regulations or requiring people to enter risky conditions.
Voltin Director Stephen Thornton says that demand for the system and the AutoBat2.0 device has been increasing. In 2022, the company conducted fourteen inspections and has received additional inquiries from clients in Australia and New Zealand. There have also been some enquiries from clients in Singapore and Hong Kong. Licensing agreements and initial sales are also anticipated in additional countries throughout the Asia-Pacific region.
“We envisage Voltin as a collaborative business with analytical partners in Asia servicing an offshore market hubbed out of Brisbane,” Thornton says. The AIML system Voltin uses creates a more in-depth analysis that achieves better results and is easier to deploy. “Structural engineering firms traditionally avoid the building envelope for assessment and maintenance, we can help make the job easier for them” Thornton says.
Thornton also remarked that building owners and managers would benefit from this AIML-based approach to reviewing buildings regularly themselves. “For the first time, they have an accurate, cost-effective, and comprehensive means of assessing the health of their buildings’ exteriors,” he said.
For more information about Voltin and AutoBat2.0, please visit www.voltin.com.au/