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12/08/2022

Urban Machine uses AI to turn waste into lumber

The startup uses artificial intelligence to remove nails and contaminants from wood recovered from demolition projects.
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Urban Machine AI
Urban Machine transforms lumber waste into usable materials through A.I.

Urban Machine, a robotics company that reclaims lumber from construction and demolition projects, has closed a $5.6 Million seed round. 

The company reclaims lumber that is considered waste and destined for landfill into high-volume, locally sourced premium lumber products. Urban Machine’s robot uses artificial intelligence (AI) software to remove nails and wood contaminants so the lumber can be reused by the construction industry. 

The investor group was led by Lowercarbon Capital and joined by GV. Urban Machine’s initial investor group, which includes Union Labs and Catapult Ventures, also participated in this round of funding.  

The capital will be used to advance Urban Machine’s salvaging technology as well as make the equipment transportable. The portability of the machine opens a massive opportunity to expand the reach of UM’s business and reduce the carbon footprint of the operation, the company said. 

New funding also allows UM to hire additional software and mechatronics engineers. With this funding round closed, Urban Machine will exit stealth mode and begin field testing in Q1 2023. 

According to Urban Machine, the company’s lumber reclamation process unlocks significant cost savings for the construction industry and supplies architects with a beautiful, high quality building material while also  reducing the environmental impact of new construction. 

The wood is sourced directly from demolition and construction sites, reducing transportation costs, and with up to 100% lumber diversion rates, there is no need to spend money trucking wood waste to the landfill. 

Annually, wood accounts for 10% of all materials in landfills, Urban Machine notes. With the tech company’s innovative approach to lumber reclamation, the company aims to sell salvaged lumber at a price

The energy used to salvage lumber is only one-tenth of that used to produce virgin lumber – truly making it a “green” building product, the company said.  

“Urban Machine is exactly the kind of company we get super excited about,” Shuo Yang, partner at Lowercarbon Capital said. “They’re turning a formerly abundant waste stream of wood into a fundamental resource of premium lumber, relentlessly building a team and technology, and tying it all together in a way that both heals the planet and becomes profitable.” 

Urban Machine was founded by CEO Eric Law, CTO Andrew Gillies, and Lead Software Engineer Alex Thiele. 

“We’re excited to work with Lowercarbon Capital and GV, who support our mission to create a greener future,” said Eric Law, Urban Machine’s co-founder. “This funding enables our machine to start salvaging lumber from construction and demolition sites in Q1, ahead of schedule.” 

Urban Machine is based in Oakland, Calif.