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Dusty Robotics, inspired by female founder’s home remodelling nightmare bags $45M to revolutionise construction

Dusty Robotics FieldPrinter Robot
Image credits: Dusty Robotics

The California-based robotics solutions provider for the construction industry, Dusty Robotics, has just closed its Series B which netted $45M in raised funds. The round was led by Scale Venture Partners alongside returning investors Baseline Ventures, Canaan Partners, Root Ventures, NextGen Venture Partners, and Cantos.

This funding will enable the robotics startup to grow its team, expand its product offerings, and accelerate manufacturing with the eventual goal of deploying Dusty products on all construction sites in the U.S.

“Construction is rampant with manual workflows – processes where a phone call, or an email, must be sent in order to move the project forward – or work that must be done precisely, via manual labour,” explained the founder and CEO of Dusty Robotics Tessa Lau. “With so little automation in the industry, it’s no wonder that 85% of projects finish over budget, contributing directly to the housing crisis. Our robot-powered solutions automate construction’s manual workflows, increasing productivity across the industry while also creating better working conditions for skilled craftspeople.”

The idea for the startup was interestingly conceived as Tessa Lau watched her contractor getting down & dirty on his hands and knees with handheld tools to work while remodelling her home. She noticed small errors such as wrong shower head installation which necessitated extra work. The use of a far-larger brush during the extensive kitchen renovation was also another detail she noticed which affected the quality of output. By checking with a measuring tape and realising the errors made, she was greatly astounded.

As the gifted roboticist she was, having initially worked at the famed Willow Garage Research Lab, Lau figured there ought to be a better way. Her natural roboticist instinct kicked in as well as her serial entrepreneur quality. This is how Dusty Robotics was conceived.

Dusty’s construction-tech solution

Dusty’s FieldPrinter solution aims at tackling one of the most common sources of conflict on construction projects: incorrect hand-drawn layouts using a chalk line process that was invented 5000 years ago by the early Egyptians. The patented FieldPrinter automates the process of taking digital floor plans onto construction sites by printing them to scale on the floor through a combination of hardware, software and other services. This solution ensures that all trades can build from the same set of plans, eliminating errors, expediting conflict resolution and saving on the cost & duration of construction.

Recent advances in FieldPrinter technology have made this solution more readily available and easy to adopt by skilled construction professionals. The FieldPrinter promises the ability to print on congested sites using automatic obstacle detection and avoidance. It also supports QR code printing, enabling instant access to construction documents as well as real-time progress monitoring, with support for fast & efficient printing including single-pass printing of intersection points. These features are key to enabling a broader vision of delivering the right information to the right people at the right time, thereby speeding up collaboration and ensuring successful project outcomes.

Widely recognised and adopted

Since its founding in 2018 by Phil Herget and Tessa Lau, Dusty Robotics’ FieldPrinter is the first solution of its kind to gain widespread adoption. Already a few dozen contractors are using the FieldPrinter solution on job sites across the U.S., among them some of the biggest names in construction such as DPR, Swinerton, PARIC, Performance Contracting Inc., and Southland Industries. Dusty’s printers laid out more than 25M square feet on the floors of buildings – enough to build the equivalent of 31,000 new apartment units – in q1 0f 2022 alone.

The landscape in the $15Tn construction market is hastily evolving as contractors, engineers & others across the value chain realise the benefits of construction technologies while increasingly attempting to deploy them in an attempt to combat the dire productivity and skilled labour crisis faced by the industry. Statistics indicate that 89% of firms can’t hire skilled labour in a market where 22% of construction workers are over age 55 and retiring soon. Consequently, 61% of projects are delayed due to labour shortages and this has resulted in 81% of firms planning to introduce robots by 2030.

“For us, the main ingredients are Dusty’s accuracy and layout speed,” stated Emmy Guthrie, the Preconstruction Manager at Performance Contracting, testifying to Dusty’s utility. “We’re also excited about Dusty printing layout for the mechanical, electrical, and plumbing trades to enable better coordination. Thanks to Dusty, we can start installing our work right away without worrying about conflicts.”

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