April 17, 2024
Dutch startup secures $25M to bring autonomous bricklaying robots to Europe



The construction sector builds the homes we live in, the offices we work in, and the schools our children learn in — but in Europe, there’s a chronic shortage of people to do this critical work.

Dutch startup Monumental thinks it has a solution: AI-powered bricklaying robots capable of working autonomously alongside humans.

Fitted with sensors and computer vision, the fully-electric machines use small crane-like arms to place bricks and mortar with human-level precision, the startup claims. They are small and nimble enough to go anywhere a person can.

“Our agile, intelligent, and adaptable robots and software blend human expertise with robotic efficiency in a way that the industry has never seen before,” said the company’s co-founder and CEO, Salar al Khafaji.  

Bricklaying is a tough job. It’s brutal on the back and knees, and doesn’t pay very well. So it’s perhaps no surprise that there’s a scarcity of young workers in Europe lining up to apply.

In the UK alone, there’s an estimated shortfall of the estimated 75,000 workers needed to build 300,000 houses each year by 2025, a target set by the government back in 2019. Monumental believes automation can fill gaps like these — and has just secured $25mn to bring its idea to fruition.

The seed funding round, which was led by founder-led deep tech fund Plural, will help Monumental grow its team of engineers and scale the number of robots it can deploy on sites across Europe. The startup also looks to train its robots to take on new, more complex tasks. 

“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,” commented Sten Tamkivi, partner at Plural. 

“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,” he added.

Following a handful of pilot projects in the Netherlands, the bricklaying robot completed its first large-scale, 15-metre wall in 2023. Monumental has since deployed its robots on other projects, has inked deals with multiple top 25 general contractors, it said. 

Monumental was founded in 2021 by Salar al Khafaji and CTO Sebastiaan Visser —  who formerly co-founded data visualisation firm Silk, acquired by Palantir in 2016. 



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