Bricklaying robot – The future of bricklaying?

The bricklaying robot is getting better and faster each year, but so are humans. Who is better and who is faster, and for how long? Are the bricklaying machines about to win from humans and is the bricklayer a craftsmanship in demise? Bricklaying has developed over the centuries into a true art, which made building and growth of our civilization possible. But all around us the rise of robots is increasing rapidly.

The fastest bricklayers of the world can place a staggering 700 bricks an hour, with precision! Bricklaying has even turned into a worldwide bricklaying championship named the ‘SMBL500‘, in which the art of laying bricks has turned into a true sport to be reckoned with.

For many years bricklaying robots where not even close to humans, but times are changing fast. Let’s take a look at the newest bricklayer robots on the market, the history of how we’ve gotten so far and what the future beholds for the ‘Apprenticeship of Bricklaying‘.

New bricklaying robots on the market

Fastbrick Robotics is the company who invented the bricklaying robot ‘Hadrian X‘, which can place a whopping 1000 bricks per hour, enough to construct an entire house in just 48 hours! On average this would take a human crew about two months of hard labor. The bricklaying robot takes cues from a computer so he knows what to build. This can be compared to a modern 3D-printer, but then with bricks and mortar. A true intriguing peace of modern ingenuity!

Another impressive new bricklaying robot on the market is the ‘SAM‘ by Construction Robotics. This bricklaying robot isn’t as fast the Hadrian, but it gives more mobility in return. It currently places a brick every 12 seconds, or about 300 bricks per hour. In the contrary of a human bricklayer, SAM first mortars the bricks by itself before placing it on the wall. Thanks to a laser it corrects vibrations and places the bricks with an extremely high accuracy.

SAM wasn’t made in order to completely replace humans, but rather to augment them at the construction site. In order for the robot to operate it requires a human operator. Besides the operator there should also be someone to make sure there’s a continuous flow of supplies like bricks and mortar and someone to fine-tune the mortar lines. The SAM uses a track to slide alongside the wall it’s constructing. This is a USP to the Hadrian, who uses a long, static arm to build from a static point. However this can be fixed by placing the Hadrian on a moving device.

The history and future of the bricklaying robot

Bricklaying is a physically heavy and enduring task. For these reasons, it is logical to consider automation for this process. The art of bricklaying has always been a real craftsmanship which requires training and skills. Learned through an apprenticeship, bricklaying requires physical endurance.. But besides that an eye for keeping the wall straight, an aesthetic sense, and a practical knowledge of construction techniques.

The undertakings of the development site bricklaying robot incorporate expelling blocks or pieces from arranged beds, the use of holding material and the erection of brickwork at an abnormal state of quality and precision . It is due to this complexity that only in recent years the first well functioning bricklaying robot was created.

Besides bricklaying robots, there’s a general debate on the future of automation. The main question in this debate is whether machines may be able to match humans at virtually any task. Humans have a very complex brain which allows us to perform complicated actions. Laying bricks is more than placing mortar on a brick and stacking it. Calculations are made in the brain to anticipate on changes in the surrounding environment, like wind or rain. Just to let the robot place mortar on a brick took two years of development.

The conclusion is that bricklaying can partly be taken over by robots in the near future, but there will be humans needed to operate them. The bricklaying robot counts as an additional workforce on the construction site.  Constructing a long straight boring wall without windows or any details suits the robot. This could improve the diversity for human bricklayers. However we are nowhere near an age where bricklaying robots can construct entire buildings on their own. The profession of bricklaying will therefore survive the upcoming centuries.