And finally… the robots are coming

And finally... the robots are coming

A robotics startup on a mission to transform the construction industry with efficient, AI-driven construction robots capable of building walls autonomously has raised $25 million (£20m) to scale its robots across Europe.

Founded in 2021 by CEO Salar al Khafaji and CTO Sebastiaan Visser, Monumental will use the new funding to grow its team, scale the number of robots it can deploy and increase the types of blocks and construction tasks the robots can manage.

Its small, electric, agile, autonomous ground vehicles (AGVs) move freely around the rough terrain of building sites to help contractors address labour shortages and rising costs, with an initial focus on bricklaying.

Across Europe, over half (57%) of countries are facing a severe shortage of bricklayers. In the UK alone, there’s an estimated shortfall of 75,000 bricklayers needed to build the 300,000 houses needed annually by 2025, while 82 million Europeans are said to be overburdened and at risk of homelessness due to a lack of affordable housing. All of which is holding back productivity in the global construction industry.

Monumental’s robots have been built to solve these needs. Fitted with advanced sensors, cutting-edge computer vision and small cranes, each Monumental robot can place bricks and mortar in industrial and residential walls with human-level precision, accuracy and efficiency. Each is operated by Monumental’s AI-powered software, Atrium, and is small enough to go anywhere a human can, whether that’s in tight corners, through doorways, or in a van.

Contractors hire Monumental as a subcontractor to bring in its robots to work as bricklayers autonomously, across the site and alongside humans. This removes the financial risk to contractors involved in purchasing and operating the machines while also reducing the technical risk of having to learn and validate the tech.

Salar al Khafaji, co-founder and CEO at Monumental, said: “The construction industry is one of the largest and most important in the world, yet it’s held back by global labour shortages and rising supply chain costs. At Monumental, we’re working to help the industry meet these challenges. Our agile, intelligent, and adaptable robots and software blend human expertise with robotic efficiency in a way that the industry has never seen before. They will revolutionise not just how buildings are constructed but transform the economics of the construction industry itself. We’re delighted to have this stellar team of investors joining us on this mission.”

The funding was led by Plural and Hummingbird. Northzone, Foundamental and NP-Hard Ventures, as well as high-profile angel investors, also participated.

Sten Tamkivi, partner at Plural said: “Monumental’s approach is the perfect coming together of ambition and expertise, the rising power and impact of AI, and the shrinking cost and size of cutting-edge hardware to address an industry that’s at breaking point. Something significant has to happen if we’re to meet the housing demands of millions and reduce the economic and environmental burden of the built world and Monumental is going to be something significant.”

Firat Ileri, partner at Hummingbird, said: “Europe’s infrastructure has been suffering from the shortage of skilled labourers for years and we’re excited to support Monumental and its innovative approach to solving this challenge. Monumental’s robots won’t just improve efficiencies on building sites, but the technology has the potential to enhance safety, optimise workflows and attract more talent into the field who are excited to learn new skills. We’re confident Monumental will deliver long-term benefits for the industry and society as a whole.”

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