metal drainages on the wet asphalt road

AI goes underground with Infrastructure DL

By Anna Lardinois, Startup Storyteller

Bob Muchka knows sewers.

For more than a quarter of a century, Muchka worked in sewer maintenance and rehabilitation. When he retired, his passion for the industry continued. Restless in retirement, he began to consider opening a business.

Inspiration struck Muchka when he viewed a TED Talk led by computer scientist Joseph Redman about the open-source algorithm YOLO (You Only Look Once). The program uses machine learning to develop image recognition, ultimately allowing the program to “find” a predefined object in an image.

At that moment, Muchka knew the technology could transform the sewer inspection industry.

“Defect identification in the infrastructure industry is something that’s very important and it’s normally done manually. It’s all subjective,” he said.

Eager to put this technology to work, Muchka launched Infrastructure DL in 2020. The company was one of the 14,650 businesses to launch in Wisconsin that year, according to U.S. Census data released by Statistics of U.S. Businesses (SUSB). The bootstrapped company, headquartered in Oconomowoc, has three employees.

The product allows users to quickly and easily analyze sewer inspection videos to find structural defects. Using the technology will save man hours, and the associated costs, while eliminating the inconsistency that comes from human analysis.

This type of AI is dependent on accessing a broad database of images so the program can “learn” how an object looks in different situations. Through his years of experience in the sewer infrastructure industry, Muchka reportedly had access to “over 10 million lineal feet of sewer” footage.

“To get to our first database, it took me two and a half years. I had to go through hundreds of thousands of pictures of sewer defects. I was able to accumulate about 20,000 samples that I could use to train (the system),” he said. The company is currently refining the active database to work with higher resolution images.

The company has done several pilot projects since its launch. Muchka is currently exploring a number of different ways to take his defect identification and development firm to a larger customer base.

To learn more about Infrastructure DL, connect with them here

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