Built Robotics digs up $ 64M for construction vehicle autonomy kits

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An Exosystem installed on a Komatsu excavator digging autonomously. | Source: Built Robotics

Built Robotics raised $ 64 million in Series C funding. The company had been quietly growing its customer base and developing its product since its last funding round in 2019, but was approached by the lead investor in the round, Tiger Global, to raise additional capital.

“We actually still had most of our Series B in the bank. Tiger had done some calls with some of our customers, and they just heard really, really positive responses, ”Noah Ready-Campbell, CEO of Built Robotics, said. “So Tiger reached out and they were like ‘hey, you guys want to raise another round?’ And, you know, it’s Tiger Global. Usually when you get an offer like that, I think it makes sense to take a hard look. ”

Built creates an autonomy retrofit kit for excavators called Exosystem. Once installed, Exosystem turns almost any manually-operated excavator into an autonomous robot. The system includes an all-weather enclosure, proximity radar, 360º cameras and GPS. It can be installed and calibrated in less than a day.

Ready-Campbell said automation is becoming necessary in many construction projects due to labor shortages.

“As a leader in autonomous construction technology, Built’s focus on easy-to-install robotic upgrades for heavy equipment is generating significant demand,” said Griffin Schroeder, partner at Tiger Global. “We are excited to partner with them as their autonomous trenching solution helps transform the construction of solar farms, oil & gas projects, and other large and critical infrastructure projects around the world. ”

Exosystem can be rented as standalone units to be installed onto a customers’ existing fleet or customers can lease upgraded excavators from Built with the technology already built in. Contractors pay an hourly fee to license the system’s autonomy software. The system can save contractors 20% or more than typical methods, according to Built.

Ready-Campbell said the company has spent the last few years in research and development, resulting in its rental fleet being fully booked until 2023. Developing the system was no easy task, as the company could not rely on off-the-shelf tooling to make it.

Existing investors NEA, Founders Fund, Fifth Wall and Building Ventures also participated in the funding round.

Built also highlighted its partnership with the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE). The IUOE is a 400,000 member union that represents equipment operators in the US and Canada. Built works with the IUOE to better train remote equipment operators (REOs).

“If you’re an REO, you actually need to be pretty computer savvy – you really need to understand how to read survey plans, how to get out there and shoot GPS points. So, he’s going to have some new skills that not every equipment operator necessarily has, ”Ready-Campbell said.

In 2020, Built won and RBR50 Robotics Innovation Award for the IUOE partnership. Built was founded in 2016 by Ready-Campbell and Andrew Liang, now the company’s leading robotics engineer. Exosystems are currently being used across the $ 1 trillion earthmoving industry.

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