Blood, Sweat & Tears
Anybody who’s worked on a building site will be familiar with names such as Skanska, Caterpillar, Liebherr and Komatsu, huge multinational construction and development companies famous for their hydraulic excavators, backhoe and wheel loaders, motor graders, and off-highway trucks etc.
For over a century construction equipment like the above has built cities and roads, replacing — in many instances — the blood, sweat and tears of hard hat workers’ bare hands to get projects finished in half the time.
But it gets better — this century, with the advent of AI and robotics — we are witnessing a changing tide in how we build our world.
One startup, an industrial automation player, is revolutionizing the construction equipment industry using AI guidance systems. Built Robotics, founded by Andrew Liang and Noah Ready-Campbell in 2016, is based in San Francisco and already has its robots deployed across the $1 trillion earthmoving industry.
“My dad was a carpenter and contractor, so I grew up around construction. Before I started Built, he told me I’d better learn to operate equipment before I tried to automate it. With a Deere 135G excavator, I dug a pond in my family’s backyard. Soon after, I met Andrew, my co-founder, and six months later we got our first prototype running.”
— Noah Ready-Cambell, Founder & CEO, Built Robotics
Here, Built Robotics’ heavy equipment robotic system, operation software, robot operation tools, and remote robot monitoring are critical infrastructure in the construction of wind farms, gas pipelines and new housing developments.
Built Robotics’s magic comes in the form of
• The Exosystem™ heavy equipment robotic system, installed on excavators to enable the machines to operate autonomously. It includes an all-weather enclosure, proximity radar, 360° cameras, GPS, and a powerful liquid-cooled computer
• Everest™️ operation software, the command centre to monitor, manage, and operate the Exosystem™ from anywhere in the world
• The Field Kit™, robot operation tools which contain the equipment you need for seamless installation, safe operation, and routine maintenance of your Exosystem.
• And finally, the Guardian™️, a remote, cloud-based monitoring solution. Each robot automatically identifies obstacles and safety conditions and will immediately stop if an error occurs. Guardian provides another layer of redundancy, ensuring smooth, reliable operation in the field.
Backed by some of the top investors in Silicon Valley, including Founders Fund, NEA, and Next47, Built Robotics has raised over $48 million to date over two rounds, with its latest funding — a $33-million Series B round led by Next47 — raised in September 2019.
The two-person founding team initially responsible for all this are CEO Noah Ready-Campbell and Andrew Liang, the startup’s Lead Robotics Engineer.
Before co-founding Built Robotics, Noah Ready-Campbell used to work at Google as an Associate Product Manager and was the founder and CEO of Twice, an online consignment shop for fashion, sold to eBay in 2015. Ready-Campbell obtained a BS in Economics and MSE in Computer Science from the University of Pennsylvania.
Andrew Liang, meanwhile, was a Research Fellow at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory researching perception for autonomous boats and a Software Engineer at Airwave prior to setting up Built Robotics with Ready-Campbell. He has a Computer Science degree from Caltech in Electrical Engineering (with Honours), minor in Computer Science.
With the heavy equipment industry using autonomous robots valued at over $1 trillion, Ready-Campbell, Liang and their team of world-class engineers and operators are disrupting the excavator and heavy-duty machinery sector with just a laptop.
Welcome to the 21st century, people!