While commuting in the morning I pass next to a building in its early stages of development. There are caterpillar excavators moving sand out of the soil into big trucks. There is a man operating this vehicle to do what seems a fairly repetitive process. Left > Down > Up (Lift sand) > Right > Down (Drop Sand) > Repeat from the beginning. This process took few weeks to finish.
This led me to think if there are any efforts to make these machines operate autonomously. The problem scope seems much smaller than building an autonomous car. There are very few unexpected circumstances for the caterpillar operative than those for a car driver. Sensors have gotten accurate enough to be able to detect the space of a piece of land, how deep you want the hole to be, and where to put what’s coming out.
Imagine the efficiency having these machines operating 24/7. Big driver of the current cost comes from the humans operating these machines. This leads to not being able to make the construction work 24/7, which leads to making the process taking longer, inevitably increasing costs for the end consumer.