Innovation and advancement in the construction industry have been making steady strides, with Built Robotics setting a trailblazing path in the realm of autonomous construction equipment. Early 2022 marked a critical milestone for the company when it secured an additional $64 million in a Series C funding round. Spearheaded by Tiger Global and supported by steadfast investors like NEA, Founders Fund, Fifth Wall, and Building Ventures, this funding round accelerated Built’s overall investment to an impressive $112 million.
Dating back to 2019, Built Robotics entered the limelight with the development of autonomous excavators, marking the genesis of an industry-wide revolution. The company’s achievements were not limited to theoretical concepts; the autonomous machines were fully functional and operational across various job sites. In addition, Built Robotics broadened its scope by venturing into other construction machinery, including dozers and loaders.
However, the global pandemic that unfolded in 2020 catalyzed a significant shift in the company’s strategy. In response to these global challenges, Built Robotics redirected its resources to an aspect of their business that was showing promise: autonomous excavators used for trench digging. As Built’s founder Noah Ready-Campbell explained, trenching is an integral, albeit repetitive, component in nearly all construction projects. The task requires meticulous precision as an error in depth can compromise the stability of trench walls, posing safety risks for the personnel installing pipelines or cables.
The company doesn’t compete with industry giants like Cat and John Deere in manufacturing excavators. Instead, Built Robotics offers an aftermarket addition, aptly named the “exosystem”. This system transforms any excavator into an autonomous workhorse. As of early 2022, the exosystem’s pricing was set at $3,000 per machine per month, along with varying per-hour usage fees dependent on the machine’s location.
Safety is an understandable concern when operating around large autonomous excavators. Addressing this, Ready-Campbell proudly reports a flawless safety record. By mid-2023, the company had amassed more than 18,000 hours of operation without any robot-related safety incident. This accomplishment is attributed to their comprehensive eight-layer safety system, which includes a geofence that halts operations if the machine leaves a specified area, wireless e-stop buttons around the site, hardwired e-stop buttons on the excavator, and cutting-edge computer vision technology that continuously scans for personnel and obstacles.
Reflecting from a 2023 perspective, Built Robotics’ remarkable journey since 2019 and its successful funding drives highlight the construction industry’s burgeoning confidence in the potential of autonomous machinery. As this technology continues to mature, it promises to revolutionize the face of construction, laying the foundation for an era defined by automation, efficiency, and unprecedented safety standards.
Source: Built Robotics