Canvas: Robots for Better Building
April 29, 2021 | Ashley Brindamour
In recent years, the manufacturing industry has been transformed by the introduction of robotics and digital tools. Now, the construction industry is poised for a similar transformation. However, the robotic advancements in construction have recently been stymied by issues that plague the ever-changing job site, such as labor shortages, safety concerns, and extreme building demands. Additionally, as the population rates continue to increase, the U.S. expects to double the global building stock by adding 2.48 trillion square feet of new floor area by 2060, furthering the need for improved construction technology.
Canvas, an Alumni Ventures portfolio company, represents a shift in the construction industry by creating high-quality tools for workers while matching the building demand of future decades and generations. The company is addressing a significant portion of the $1.3 trillion construction industry market by leveraging advancements in collaborative robotics and machine learning to build a new class of tools for the drywall finishing space.
Kevin Albert (CEO) co-founded Canvas with Maria Telleria (CTO) and Henrik Bennetsen (CBO) after the three met at OtherLab, an independent research and design lab to bring new solutions in robotics to market. Albert shared that the three co-founders were driven by a collective passion to create tools and machines for the real world and real users. After spending three years in stealth building out a strong patent portfolio and working in partnership with leading builders and unions, Canvas perfected its approach and launched with notable customers like Swinerton in hand.
Reduced Labor and Faster Production
The process of drywalling has remained virtually unchanged for decades, even with significant ergonomic and safety complications. In addition to high injury rates for workers within this service, customers are often left dissatisfied with project performance and endure substantial budget and time overruns. Click here to watch a video showing how traditional drywall work on interior walls is slow and inefficient.
Canvas is solving these challenges by combining the skills and expertise of trained union workers with robotics technology. This combination allows Canvas to deliver superior finishes, provide better working conditions, and unlock unprecedented control over schedules by reducing typical finishing times from seven days to two.
While the Canvas robot is initially focused on the drywall finishing construction market, the company’s roadmap also includes ancillary trades like targeted spray, protrusions, auto touch-up, pre-mapping, and auto taping — ultimately increasing the total addressable market.
Watch this video to see Canvas in action
How We Are Involved
Alumni Ventures’ Green D Ventures (for Dartmouth alumni and friends of the community) was introduced to the company by Andrew Beebe (D ‘93) of Obvious Ventures, a Board member of Canvas.
Green D along with several sibling funds deployed capital in Canvas’ $24 million Series B. Leading the round was established venture capital firm Menlo Ventures. Lead partner Matt Murphy has a strong track record and experience investing in robotics. Other participating investors include Innovation Endeavors, Brick & Mortar Ventures, Obvious Ventures, and Grit Labs.