Robotics startups often make headlines for improving production efficiency or tackling highly repetitive tasks. It is less often that we come across stories that save lives or accomplish feats that are not just faster but simply unachievable with even the most skilled human labor. Gecko Robotics’ unique climbing robot just does that, inspecting complex, large-scale infrastructure at a speed and level of thoroughness and safety that were unimaginable a few years ago.

Like the eponymous sure-footed lizard, Gecko’s robots literally stick to the surfaces they inspect. The name of the game in creating a successful industrial inspection robot is designing a single platform that “just works” in dozens of environments and geometries. CEO and co-founder Jake Loosararian and his Pittsburgh-based team have hit that mark, building their machine on a highly modular chassis with the ability to easily swap parts in and out, and accommodating a large combination of sensor payloads including cameras, ultrasonics and lasers.

As a result of this inherent flexibility, Gecko inspection robots can travel where no one has gone before — nearly two hundred feet high on the metallic surfaces of pipes, tubes, boilers and tanks of all shapes and sizes, moving in virtually any orientation (including upside down!) and traversing hard-to-reach or obscured areas. Gecko’s sensor suite systematically scours the surface for weaknesses such as corrosion, material erosion and cracks. Gone unnoticed, these defects can cascade into dangerous operational conditions, resulting in accidents at worst or extended downtime at best. For its large customers in industries such as power generation, oil & gas and pulp & paper, the benefits are huge.

Reliability and throughput are two critical performance factors for any robotic system. The Gecko platform is extremely rugged, operating reliably in dirty and dangerous environments and across a wide temperature range. It moves fast and quickly captures up to 15,000X as much information as traditional methods — point measurements made with handheld sensors, by humans working on dangerous scaffolding that is time-consuming and costly to erect.

Perhaps best of all, the Gecko solution helps to retire the paper era by processing and storing inspection data digitally. Customers can view their information on the Gecko cloud portal in 3D and high resolution, rapidly create reports, observe how their assets perform over time and use in-built analytics and a growing suite of machine learning tools to predict future condition states. Gecko helps customers better plan their maintenance and capital expenditure cycles, reduce insurance costs, maintain regulatory compliance and improve safety records. It is giving industrial asset inspection — today a highly analog practice — a pronounced digital advantage.

In participating in Gecko Robotics’ $40M Series B round, Next47 is proud to have the company join our growing portfolio of robotics startups, such as Built Robotics and Avidbots. We are particularly excited about helping Gecko accelerate its commercialization and expand its already-impressive customer footprint through our extensive network and relationships. We look forward to leveraging the power of the Next47 team and Siemens’ unmatched presence in power generation and distribution, oil & gas and other verticals to help Gecko scale new heights in the world of industrial robotics — one gravity-defying inspection at a time.