Once considered futuristic, artificial intelligence has been made more accessible and integral to contractors in recent years by several burgeoning startups, through programs such as OpenSpace and Smartvid.io.
Adding to the list of firms making inroads in construction technology, two other artificial intelligence-powered companies offering digital solutions for construction managers announced new rounds of funding this month:
Alice, an AI-based simulation platform for construction, announced yesterday that it has closed $8 million in Series A funding round led by Merus Capital with participation from Foundamental, Blackhorn Ventures and Lightspeed Venture Partners.
Founded by Stanford scholar and inventor Rene Morkos in 2013, Alice uses AI to help analyze the flows of labor and equipment throughout a jobsite. In use by firms such as DPR Construction, Mortenson and Parsons, the technology allows users to explore a variety of building plans in real-time and understand the impact of key construction decisions on project cost and duration. The firm says that its customers have cut project duration by 16% and labor costs by nearly 15%.
Elie Homsi, Parsons senior vice president, said Parsons recently used Alice on infrastructure projects in Arkansas and Toronto and that it allowed the company to use fewer senior schedulers.
Disperse, creator of an AI-powered platform that captures and processes visual data from physical sites to help streamline the construction process, last week announced it raised $15 million of Series A funding in a round led by venture capital firm Northzone.
Disperse integrates construction schedules, 2D drawings, 3D models and visual snapshots from a construction site and processes them to create an interactive digital twin. The system quantifies progress, highlights bottlenecks and flags early warning signs of potential issues, allowing for improved delivery and standardization of best practices.
The London-based firm estimates that superintendents and construction managers using the system spend up to 25% less time doing site walks and reporting progress, and senior schedulers spend up to 60% less time collecting data, creating progress reports and updating schedules. Stakeholders have also seen a reduction in the number of arguments and claims between parties during disputes and litigation, according to chief customer officer Marco Lobo.
Although he declined to name the U.S. firms using Disperse, Lobo said the technology has been deployed across more than 14 million square feet of construction in the U.K. and the U.S. The company recently launched its first North American office in New York City, where the program is in use across 3 million square feet of projects.
"We are working with several of New York’s largest general contractors and developers, and we’re live on some of the most iconic flagship projects in the city," he said, adding that company leaders are exploring other North
American markets, especially San Francisco and Chicago.