ANIMATION: How this one-armed Australian robot builds a house faster than brickies

The robot bricklayer. Image: Supplied.

The latest version of the Australian bricklaying robot will be able to put up a house in two days, according to the CEO of Fastbrick Robotics, Mike Pivac.

Compare that to the four to six weeks using human bricklaying teams to put up a standard home.

The robot will also do it cheaper, cutting about 10% from the cost, and build a stronger and better insulated home.

Pivac and his cousin Mark Pivac, the creator of the robotic bricklayer and the company’s chief technology officer, first started putting together a new way of building in Perth in 2005.

Their efforts were interrupted by the GFC and it wasn’t until 2013 that they got going again, listing on the ASX in November in a reverse takeover of DMY Capital. An oversubscribed IPO raised $5.75 million at 2 cents a share. The two Pivacs will be in the US next week on a marketing trip, talking to potential partners.

The release of a video of the prototype robot bricklayer at work created huge interest and a flood of enquiries.

One of the biggest questions generated by the video was — where’s the mortar between the bricks.

“There is mortar there (in the video) but it’s a clear PV polyurethane fluid which was used on that particular structure,” Mike Pivac told Business Insider. “It’s happening but you don’t see it happening. Those walls are being glued together.”

Here’s the video:

Fastbrick Robotics’s shares are up more than 13% today to $0.025.

“It wasn’t necessarily an approved construction adhesive suitable for standard residential construction,” says Mike Pivac of the time lapse video demonstration. “We used that fluid because it was easy for us at the time.

“At the moment we are working on the perfect product for Australian standards. We apply the adhesive to a precision brick product.”

Construction started this month on the Hadrian X, which will have a capacity of up to 1,000 standard brick equivalents an hour via a 30 metre boom, with everything being delivered to a building site on the back of a truck.

That is double the daily output of a top bricklayer in just one hour.

The Hadrian X concept. Image: Supplied.

“Bricks are not the same anymore,” says Mike Pivac. “We don’t need a leveling agent like mortar anymore. So by closing that mortar bed we are able to increase the efficiency of the home by about 70% in terms of acoustic and thermal qualities.”

“We use a 1mm bed of construction adhesive or foam. You end up with a wall strength 5 times stronger than standard cement.”

In production, the adhesive will look more like what comes out of a caulking gun.

This animation gives more detail on how the bricks are fed along a boom conveyor belt, picking up adhesive just before being placed in position by the robot arm:

“It loads bricks one end and lays them at the other and there’s no human hand in between,” says Pivac.

“We’re getting a lot of attention around the world. We have interest from over 50 countries in the machine and that’s one of the reasons we’re heading to the states next week to get a better sense of how we would produce the machines in the thousands.

“If we wanted to take up 10% of the addressable bricklaying market around the world we would need somewhere between 5000 and 6000 machines operating.

“It has captured people’s imaginations. there is excitement in people’s voices when they start to anticipate a world where we have the machines doing the hard, horrible work.”

Pivac says is a national shortage of bricklayers in Australia.

“But we don’t want to eliminate bricklayers,” he says. ” There’s a lot of work that they do that machines can’t. The machines will do 95% of it but that artisan work needs human hands.”

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