Robots are capable of building all kinds of structures, but it’s usually in service of research. As cool as a spiky plastic pavilion looks, it’s not exactly livable.
Australian company FBR is taking a different tack. It’s spent the last few years working on a robot called Hadrian X that will make bricklaying easier and faster. The robot is mounted to the back of a truck, where its 100-foot arm is able to grab bricks and lay them in a precise arrangement.
Here’s how it works: Hadrian X first analyzes CAD files of a design to determine exactly how many bricks are needed for a job and where they should go. In real time the arm can sense wind, vibration, and inertia, which allows it to tweak its plans on the go to build a more stable structure.
The customized bricks Hadrian X builds with are 12 times larger than a typical brick and bond together in 45 minutes through a special adhesive. The arm is able to lay up to 1,000 bricks an hour while stationed from a single position, making it a hyper-efficient construction worker. After the bricks are laid, humans go in and do their thing, adding wall linings, roof tiles, and other finishing touches.
The robot has already built several multi-room test houses in the lab, but it’s currently at work on its first outdoor home—a three-bedroom, two-bathroom house that the company is using as a proof of concept for a technology they believe to be nearly ready for prime time. If all goes according to plan, FBR says it will build 10 robotically-constructed homes this year—a far cry from a single use pavilion.