Automate the Future: Robotics Across the Built Environment – BotBuilt

In this spotlight interview, we speak to Brent Wadas, CEO of BotBuilt, where we delve into the world of robotics and how advances in technology are revolutionising construction, architecture and urban planning.

 

 

Where did your passion for robotics stem from and how has your career led you to where you are today?

My journey into the realm of robotics and innovation within the built environment traces back to a diverse array of experiences, shaped by a foundation instilled in me by my parents from a young age. They imparted a sense of responsibility and a deep understanding of adult decisions, which proved invaluable as I navigated through different stages of life. Initially, I ventured into the music industry, fuelled by a passion for music and a desire for creative expression. However, as life evolved, I felt the pull towards establishing roots and building a legacy through business. With the guidance of a mentor, I embarked on the path of entrepreneurship, co-founding a successful financial firm and a SaaS company, where I gained invaluable insights into wealth creation and business management.

The events of 9/11 marked a significant turning point in my life, prompting me to reassess my priorities and seek new challenges. Inspired by familial ties to the military, I made the bold decision to join Special Operations in the US Army. Over the course of a decade, I honed my leadership skills and faced the realities of war, until an injury necessitated a shift in direction.

It was during my consulting endeavours post-military that I encountered the seeds of what would eventually become BotBuilt’s ground-breaking robotics solution. Through my cousin’s connection to Barrett Ames, a co-founder and visionary in robotics, I was introduced to the potential of automation within the housing industry. Recognising the untapped opportunities in this space, we embarked on a journey to revolutionise the way homes are built. With a keen focus on cost-effectiveness and ROI-driven solutions, we delved into the intersection of robotics and neural networks, exploring the possibilities of compounding robotic capabilities. This journey culminated in the formation of BotBuilt and our participation in Y Combinator, where we gained invaluable insights into the tech landscape and solidified our vision. Today, armed with a factory equipped with cutting-edge robotics, we are pioneering the future of home construction, leveraging automation to streamline processes and enhance efficiency. Our journey from humble beginnings to building homes with robots exemplifies the transformative power of innovation and collaboration.

Can you provide an overview of how BotBuilt’s robotics solution works and its primary functions and what specific challenges or pain points does BotBuilt’s solution address?

The primary function of BotBuilt’s solution centres around streamlining the framing process, a pivotal stage in construction that often consumes substantial time and resource. Traditional framing methods are labour-intensive, prone to errors, and lack precision, leading to cost overruns and delays. By leveraging robotics and advanced technology, BotBuilt offers a comprehensive system that transforms the framing process into a seamless, efficient operation.

At the core of BotBuilt’s approach lies the integration of automation with precise planning and execution. Builders submit their two-dimensional plans to BotBuilt, which are then converted into three-dimensional framing models through a proprietary neural network system. This step ensures accuracy and precision in translating design specifications into actionable data for the construction process. The system then generates optimised framing plans, taking into account material requirements, cutting specifications and assembly instructions.

Moreover, BotBuilt’s solution extends beyond mere automation by providing end-to-end support throughout the construction lifecycle. Custom tooling and robotic assembly processes enable the fabrication of framing panels tailored to each project’s specifications. These prefabricated panels are then delivered to the job site, ready for quick and efficient assembly by a small team of workers.

The modular nature of BotBuilt’s framing system mirrors the assembly process of an Ikea product, facilitating rapid installation and minimizing on-site labour requirements. As a result, builders can adhere to strict timelines, ensuring that framing milestones are met promptly, thus preventing delays that cascade into additional costs and project disruptions. By offering a holistic solution that combines robotics, advanced planning, and prefabrication, BotBuilt addresses the core challenges faced by builders in the construction industry.

Can you share any case studies or success stories where BotBuilt’s robotics solution has significantly impacted construction projects?

One notable example comes from collaborative efforts with Eric Holt, CFA at the University of Denver, who conducted thorough case studies comparing site-based construction with factory-built methods. These studies consistently demonstrate substantial cost savings for builders adopting BotBuilt’s solution.

Additionally, Scott Sadam’s contributions to Lean engineering have further refined our processes, ensuring maximum efficiency and resource utilization. Builders utilizing our system typically experience cost reductions ranging from 20 to 50%, attributable to upfront material knowledge and the elimination of additional expenses associated with traditional construction methods.

There’s also a critical focus on safety. The prefabricated nature of our framing panels drastically reduces on-site hazards, offering builders a safer working environment. With clear markings and precise assembly instructions, the risk of accidents is significantly mitigated.

One striking metric that highlights the transformative impact of our solution comes from a builder in Northwest Arkansas. They previously grappled with labour shortages, resulting in framing times ranging from five to 25 days. However, with BotBuilt’s system this timeframe has been dramatically reduced to just three hours. Such rapid turnaround not only addresses labour challenges but also underscores the profound efficiency gains achievable through our robotics solution.

How does BotBuilt envision the future of robotics in the built environment, and what role do you see your company playing in that future?

At BotBuilt, we see the future of robotics in the built environment focusing on cost-effectiveness and flexibility. Our focus is on harnessing both current and future technologies to create adaptable systems that don’t require constant reprogramming. Instead of manual input, our robots utilise advanced computer vision systems to make intelligent decisions based on the materials they encounter. This flexibility allows for more efficient and affordable construction processes.

By embracing robotic systems, we aim to not only streamline construction operations but also attract more people to the trades. In an era where skilled labour shortages are prevalent; we see robotics as a way to make construction careers more appealing to the next generation. By showcasing the integration of robotics into traditional trades, we hope to inspire a new wave of workers who will drive the future of construction forward.

How does BotBuilt approach sustainability and environmental considerations in the development and deployment of its robotics solution?

At BotBuilt, sustainability isn’t just a goal—it’s a fundamental principle guiding our development and deployment of robotics solutions. Our robots are equipped with advanced predictive capabilities, ensuring optimal material usage and minimising waste from the start. Every cut is made with precision, maximizing the efficiency of lumber usage and reducing excess waste typically seen on construction sites.

Precision is key in our approach. From nailing sheathing to routing for electrical and plumbing, every action is executed with precision, eliminating overuse and waste. As we continue to innovate and develop new systems, such as routing for various installations, we’re committed to minimising waste and preserving our planet for future generations.

Congratulations on your recent raise of capital! Can you share insights into how this influx of funds will be utilized to further develop and enhance BotBuilt’s robotics solution for the construction industry?

Our immediate focus is on expanding our infrastructure by investing in a newer factory equipped with advanced systems. This expansion will enable us to meet the growing demand for our robotics solutions and efficiently address any backlog we currently face.

In addition to infrastructure enhancements, we’re prioritising the development of our software capabilities. By allocating resources to software-focused positions, we aim to optimise our software system, particularly on the estimation side. This will allow more users to leverage our software for estimation purposes, even if they’re not yet ready to adopt our robotic solutions for panel building.

Reflecting on the fundraising environment, we recognise the challenges it presents but we remain committed to transparency and integrity in our dealings. We believe in being forthright about our business model and market positioning, even if it means slower growth in the short term. We’re aligned with investors who value integrity over inflated promises, and we’re confident that this approach will lead to sustainable growth and long-term success.

Looking ahead, we anticipate a market correction that will prioritise businesses with genuine value propositions and sustainable growth trajectories. By staying true to our principles and focusing on delivering tangible results, we believe BotBuilt is well-positioned to thrive in this evolving landscape.

What challenges do you have in regard to expanding your team or finding talent in the robotics field?

In terms of expanding our team and finding talent in the robotics field, we prioritise not just technical prowess, but also grit and tenacity. While many candidates possess the necessary educational background in math, science, or engineering, we’re selective in our recruitment process. We strive to cultivate an elite team mentality, where every member is fully committed to excellence.

Our approach is straightforward: if you’re part of our team, you’re expected to give your absolute best. We value dedication and determination, understanding that not everyone can sustain peak performance indefinitely. When team members move on, we support them in their endeavours but maintain our focus on excellence.

In recent years, there’s been a shift in attitudes within the tech industry, with some individuals feeling entitled to high-level positions without putting in the necessary effort. However, we believe in the power of self-improvement and resilience. We encourage individuals to invest in themselves, sharpen their skills, and strive for excellence. By fostering a culture of continuous improvement and commitment, we not only enhance our team’s capabilities but also contribute to the growth of the economy as a whole.

Thank you very much for taking the time to share your insight with us today.

My pleasure, thank you for letting me share this with you.

If you would like to discuss any of the topics raised in this piece or if you need support with your leadership resourcing strategy, please get in touch with Emma Callahan on emma.callahan@beaumontbailey.com