Cleaning the exterior of a building is a dirty job, and it can be dangerous. Lucid Bots launched its Sherpa series of drones in 2018 for cleaning windows at high altitudes, and now it’s back to take on more labor-intensive tasks.

The Charlotte, N.C.-based company, which was part of Y Combinator’s 2019 cohort, takes the form of a new robotics company with a thesis on building intelligent robots that are purpose-built to solve problems that people are bad at. Designed for dirty” jobs. “Want to do it,” Ashour said.

“We started with a very simple problem, and over the years, in order to make dangerous jobs safer, the real problem we were solving was the fundamental fact that people didn’t want to do jobs that were considered boring, dirty jobs. Lucid Bots Founder CEO and CEO Andrew Ashur told TechCrunch.

Customers have also been asking the company whether its drones can clean flat surfaces such as sidewalks and driveways in addition to building exteriors, windows and roofs.

“We had the opposite problem, where people told us, ‘If you build this, we’ll pay you,'” Ashour said. “As you can imagine, flat surfaces and gravity are not friendly to flying objects.”

Getting the robot to do this was actually easier than Ashur thought. Lucid Bots’ bots share a common frame and a common brain. All that’s missing is attaching different tools or payloads to the robots so they can perform different tasks. Well, there are some wheels too. Voila: a robot that can clean flat surfaces. It’s called Lavo Bot, a pressure washing robot.

Drones are an industry that some of the big players…are flying into. Amazon has locked down delivery drones, though it will no longer deliver in California. Google and DoorDash are also trying to get in on the action. And all the drones used for aerospace and military purposes. In addition to Lucid Bots, lesser-known companies such as Apellix, Prichard Industries, and KTV also have cleaning drones. Ashur’s goal isn’t necessarily to compete with the likes of Amazon — it’s not focused on delivery, but “building cutting-edge technology for old-school industries,” he said.

What Ashour sees as Lucid Bots’ advantage, Ashour said, is that cleaning drones can fly within regulations in urban and suburban environments, spaces where today delivery drones can’t even be tested.

Last year, Lucid Bots conducted a proof-of-concept in which customers paid for two delivery drones of a certain size — a lift-and-low delivery drone with a 20-pound payload that could fly 10 kilometers autonomously. Lucid Bots looked at its core technology stack and product strategy and realized it could achieve this goal in less than a month. In fact, the company ended up completing the job in four days, Ashour said.

“We’re like outliers in robotics,” Ashour said. “We’re generating significant revenue. We’ve had years of growth. We also have access to this very unique data set on how to fly in environments where most drones can’t fly today, which creates a lot of potential for us long-term. value.”

Lucid Bots, meanwhile, has revenue of just over $3.5 million in 2023, and Ashur said the company has “been growing exponentially over the past three years, and I plan to keep that growth going for as long as possible.”

Now the company wants to advance its autonomous robotics portfolio, scale operations and expand into new markets using its artificial intelligence-powered software and sensor platform. To this end, the company received $9.1 million in new funding in a Series A round of funding.

Ashour said it was “very interesting” to try to raise money for a cutting-edge technology company, especially one headquartered in Charlotte. There’s often a disconnect among investors because they don’t understand the space or vision for Lucid Bots. That’s not the case at Cubit Capital, he said.

Cubit Capital led the round, with participation from Idea Fund Partners, Danu Venture Group and existing investors including Y Combinator’s Growth Fund and Gratus Capital.

Cubit Capital’s Philip Carson said in a written statement that Lucid Bots can achieve goals “unheard of in the cleaning robot industry” and bring products to market quickly and cost-effectively.

“Lucid Bots has pioneered a model where it costs less to manufacture drones domestically than to ship them from overseas manufacturers,” Carson said. “These differentiated capabilities, coupled with strong revenue growth and proven A well-tested team gives us confidence in their ability to win in this exciting and growing market.”

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