Robotics

Lucid Bots secures $9M for drones to clean more than your windows

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Lucid Bots, Sherpa cleaning drone
Image Credits: Lucid Bots

Cleaning the outside of buildings is a dirty job, and it’s also dangerous. Lucid Bots came on the scene in 2018 with its Sherpa line of drones to clean windows in tall places, 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, took on a new form as a robotics company with a thesis to build intelligent robots that are purpose-made to tackle the “dirty” jobs that people don’t want to do, Ashur said.

“We started with a very simple problem, and in pursuit of wanting to make a dangerous job safer over the years, the true problem we’re solving is this fundamental fact that people don’t want to do jobs that are considered dull, dirty, dangerous or demeaning,” Andrew Ashur, founder and CEO of Lucid Bots, told TechCrunch.

Customers, too, kept asking the company if its drones had the ability to clean flat surfaces, like sidewalks and driveways, in addition to the building facade, window and roof.

“We had this inverse problem where people are telling us, ‘If you build this, we will pay you for it,’” Ashur said. “As you can imagine for a flying object, a flat surface and gravity are not friendly.”

Achieving a robot to do that was actually easier than Ashur thought. Lucid Bots had a common frame and common brain to its robots. All that was missing was attaching different tools or payloads to the robots so they can do different tasks. Well, and some wheels. Voila: a robot that can clean a flat surface. It’s called Lavo Bot, a pressure-washing robot.

Drones are an industry where some big players…fly in. Amazon has a lock on delivery drones, even though it is not going to deliver in California anymore. Google and DoorDash also tried to get in on that. There’s also all of the drones being used for aerospace and military purposes. In addition to Lucid Bots, some lesser-known companies, like Apellix, Prichard Industries and KTV have cleaning drones. Ashur’s goal isn’t to necessarily compete with the likes of Amazon — it isn’t focused on delivery, but rather “building frontier technology for old school industries,” he said.

Where Ashur believes Lucid Bots has an edge is that cleaning drones fly within regulations in urban and suburban environments, spaces where delivery drones can’t even test today, Ashur said.

Last year, Lucid Bots did a proof-of-concept where a customer paid for two delivery drones of a certain size — a 20-pound payload lifting delivery drone that can fly 10 kilometers autonomously. Lucid Bots looked at its core tech stack and product strategy and realized it could pull that off in less than a month. In fact, the company ended up doing it in four days, Ashur said.

“We’re like an outlier in the robotics landscape,” Ashur said. “We’re doing meaningful revenue. We’ve got years of growth. We’ve also got access to this very unique data set of how you can fly in these environments where most drones aren’t able to fly today, which creates a lot of long term value for us.”

Meanwhile, Lucid Bots did just over $3.5 million in revenue in 2023, with Ashur saying the company “has been on an exponential clip for the last three years, and I plan to stay on that for as long as we can.”

Now it wants to advance its portfolio of autonomous robotics, scale operations and leverage its AI-driven software and sensor platform to expand into new markets. It’s doing that with a new $9.1M in Series A funding.

It was “very interesting” trying to fundraise for a frontier tech company, especially based out of Charlotte, Ashur said. There was often a disconnect between investors who didn’t understand the space or the vision of what Lucid Bots was building toward. That was not the case with Cubit Capital, he said.

Cubit Capital led the round and was joined by 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 was able to achieve something “unheard of in the cleaning robotics industry,” bring products to market quickly and cost-consciously.

“Lucid Bots has pioneered a model where it costs less to build a drone domestically than it would to ship a drone from a manufacturer overseas,” Carson said. “These differentiated capabilities, combined with strong revenue growth and a proven team, bring us immense confidence in their ability to win in this exciting, growing market.”

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