Rugged Robotics, located near Houston, displays their layout printing construction robots, which are made to paint dot matrix ink patterns on the ground to give construction crews a sense of scale. They secured a $2.5 million seed investment in 2019, and while the business is not currently collecting funds, it has already begun to test its technologies in its early pilots, including a collaboration with the Massachusetts-based construction firm Consigli.
Construction is an industry that can profit much from automation, and with few robotics areas that can stand to profit from the pandemic that has brought many non-essential operations to a halt, this industry can definitely thrive. Over the last year or two, several participants rose to the occasion in this category, including Toggle, Scaled, SkyMul, and Dusty.
Consigli’s Jack Moran stated that they had a progressive-looking client, which was a building in charge of both the core shell and the fit-out, which was rather difficult, according to him. It had plenty of unusual forms that would be a problem for them.
Rugged’s self-described “layout Roomba” was employed to assist in the construction of a 10-story skyscraper in Cambridge, Massachusetts, writing plans on the ground of the space that amounted to about 40,000 square feet each level. The collaboration essentially marks Rugged’s transition from early research and development to commercialization.
In an interview, Rugged founder and CEO Derrick Morse stated, that the layout phase is the most critical step in the construction process, and the location of where things are installed determines where things are built. A layout error cascades throughout the full building process, resulting in rework, delays, and higher costs.
“We have insatiable client demand,” Morse added. The company has numerous multibillion-dollar contractors that are eager to work with them on pilots and demos, and they’ll be expanding the organization and fleet over the next 12 months. The company will most likely be bringing in additional funding to support that expansion, Morse said.
The team is currently tiny, with roughly six full-time employees, including co-founders with NASA and Samsung backgrounds. The squad now consists of three robots with the intention to increase the numbers to five. The robots are built to give a sense of scale for the structures they’re developing.
A member of the Rugged team travels to the site with the robot to monitor its execution, with the startup billing the construction business via robotics as a service or RaaS model.