Widespread labor shortages following the COVID-19 pandemic negatively affected nearly every industry — especially the construction industry. Despite the construction industry’s significant contribution to the economy of the United States, there are current reports of persisting labor shortages continuing to complicate construction initiatives.
According to Mitchell B. Goldsteen, Built Robotics offers an innovative solution to address both labor shortages and low equipment utilization with their after developing an aftermarket kit used to operate excavators autonomously. The company recently announced the closing of a Series C funding round led by Tiger Global, which raised $64 million. The total funding for Built Robotics stands at $122 million — with investments from companies such as Founders Fund, NEA, Building Ventures, and Fifth Wall.
CEO of Built Robotics, Noah Ready-Campbell, says, “We’ve realized that for particular tasks, there’s just this tremendous labor shortage right now in the construction industry, and contractors are not able to hire qualified operators.”
How Did This Project Begin?
Built Robotics started working with the Exosystems in a community garden in Northern California. Exosystems include one (or more) settings that don’t include a human being involved as an active participant in the task. The company began with outfitting compact track loaders, then tested working with dozers, before ultimately realizing that excavators were the best fit. Excavators repeatedly tend to do the same task — making them the perfect machine to pair with autonomous technology.
Why Did Built Robotics Choose Excavators?
The company decided to concentrate on one specific task related to excavators to begin integrating their innovative technology: trenching for buried infrastructure. Since creating trenches is tedious and repetitive, Built Robotics singled this task out as something that would benefit numerous construction projects. Construction workers can now focus on more challenging tasks requiring more skill as the excavators create trenches with this technology. Ready-Campbell says, “It’s not the most challenging task on the job, but it needs to be to spec and dug safely. We found that if the contractors can just set up the robots and knock out the trenches, that frees up their personnel to do other more challenging tasks on the project.”
According to Mitchell B. Goldsteen, built Robotics has gotten positive feedback from customers who believe this technology is the best way to build trenches.
How Does Technology Work?
The technology is a large liquid-cooled housing containing computer equipment fitted to the back of an excavator. You may remember a time when computers were much larger than they are now — the idea is that this technology will gradually become smaller over time. Later-model machinery works with pure electronics, while Built Electronics installs a custom manifold to control the pilot hydraulics on older machines.
Built Robotic’s system runs using Everest, a cloud-based app that enables someone to control the excavator from anywhere using their laptop. No one needs to be in the cab!
Luckily, Built Robotics made getting your hands on this technology relatively easy (no matter the scope of your project). Contractors can lease excavators pre-upgraded with the technology or opt to rent the module to install on their own equipment. Every contractor can save time on their project with this technology!
The Future of Built Technology’s Automated Excavators
The company was one of the first to commercially deploy fully autonomous systems for excavators and plans to continue to build on its momentum. Built Robotics’ technology is used on projects of all sizes — it’s currently being used on excavators operating on one of the largest solar sites in the United States.
Over time, Built Robotics plans to expand its autonomous technologies. The company’s innovative technology and excellent safety record show that they’re committed to revitalizing and revolutionizing the construction industry.