Federal government / Startups / Technology

Gecko Robotics just got the US Navy’s seal of approval

Gecko's wall-crawling robots will enable advanced inspections on Navy ships. Director of Engineering Ed Bryner explains what it means for the North Side company.

Gecko Robotics' wall-climbing robots. (Courtesy photo)

Gecko Robotics, the North Side-based industrial infrastructure inspections technology company, announced this week that is expanding its work with the US Navy, following the naval body’s approval of its technology.

Since the company’s founding in 2016, its leaders have said that their mission was to use its crawling robots’ data collection abilities to empower customers to make the best choices possible. In the case of the Navy, Gecko Robotics Director of Engineering Ed Bryner told the company’s robots being used will enable advanced inspections on the Navy’s new Arleigh Burke class destroyer and its first amphibious assault ship.

Originally, Gecko focused on the oil and manufacturing industry, until roughly a year and a half ago, Bryner said the company decided to branch out. Now, the leadership is thrilled to have the Navy’s approval after dedicating so much time to proving the technology’s merits.

Demonstration of CI100CI Gecko Robotics Innovation Pilot on April 12, 2022. (Courtesy photo)

“This is a really big step,” Bryner said, “because we had to work through ensuring that our processes met their tech warrant holders, standards, and their regional maintenance center quality program standards.”

Now, with that approval, Bryner said, the technology can be used at the Navy’s regional maintenance centers and deployed at its shipyards in order to start collecting information across the Navy “as needed.” Bryner added that the Navy using its technology to prevent maintenance delays means safer conditions for sailors, too.

“With a lot of the geopolitical pressures, especially in the Pacific, they want to make sure that their ships aren’t sitting in dry dock, that they’re getting the proper maintenance, and that they are operationally ready to protect our waterways and, and our democracy,” Bryner said. (Dry dock refers to the area away from the water where ships are built and or repaired.) “We believe that we can make sure that that fleet of ships is operational and getting out of dry dock on time.”

On top of the Navy’s approval, a further source of pride for the company was a Department of Defense-sponsored report that deemed Gecko Robotics technology to have “achieved exceptional success” in its capacity to inspect the Navy’s assets.

US Navy boat. (Courtesy photo)

The Navy isn’t the only branch of the military the company has worked with in recent years. The company ended 2022 with the announcement of an 18-month, $1.5 million contract with the US Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center.

Before that, the company secured one of the larger funding raises for a Pittsburgh company in 2022 with $73 million.

Moving forward, Bryner said, the company’s leaders are looking forward to an expanded working relationship with the Navy. In this capacity, the Navy will be discovering other problems Gecko Robotics’ robots and AI-powered software could potentially address for the institution.

“In the coming months, we’re hoping to see our technology be able to be transferred to all of the port engineers that are working at both the local continental US regional maintenance centers,” Bryner said, “but also for deployed regional maintenance centers as well.”

Atiya Irvin-Mitchell is a 2022-2023 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Heinz Endowments.
Companies: Gecko Robotics

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