David Silverberg for Motherboard: The global construction space isn't known for ushering new tech into their workforce, but a painful labour shortage, calls for increased worker safety and more low-cost housing, and the need to catch up to other tech-savvy sectors is giving upstarts in robotics and exoskeletons their big moment.
Jessica Sier for The Sydney Morning Herald: Fastbrick is building a commercial version of its robot bricklaying machine, Hadrian X, which will cost about $2 million when it goes into full production in 2019.
Evan Ackerman for IEEE Spectrum: Construction seems like an industry that, were I still living in Silicon Valley, I would be tempted to call "ripe for disruption." Researchers at the MIT Media Lab agree, pointing out in a paper just published in Science Robotics that construction "relies on traditional fabrication technologies that are dangerous, slow, and energy-intensive." Hey, sounds like a job for some robots, right?
Tim Boreham for The Australian: According to Fastbrick Robotics chief Mike Pivac, the art of bricklaying hasn’t changed much in the past 5000 years. For brickies’ labourers in particular, it remains an unsafe and back-breaking game of messy mortar-mixing and lugging hods at height or over uneven surfaces.
Backed with seed funding from the publicly listed Brickworks, Mr Pivac and his cousin Mark have devised a robotic bricklaying machine to eliminate the drudge work. About the size of a garbage truck, the prototype Hadrian 105 unit can erect an average house in one to two days, within an accuracy of half a millimetre. That’s far more accurate than the brickies’ time-honoured string and spirit level method.
Led by Cygnet Capital, the Pivacs have been on an investor roadshow ahead of a $3 million raising and reverse IPO, via the shell of former winery owner DMY Capital. Interest has been enormous, with inquiries from as far afield as Saudi Arabia and Russia. “We had 500,000 hits on our website in just over five days,’’ Mr Pivac says. “We have had interest from 35 countries, including some outstanding big organisations.’’ Cygnet Capital director of corporate finance Darien Jagger says no other IPO has attracted as much interest. “We have fielded thousands of emails from all sorts of parties.’’ The Hadrian unit has already demonstrated end-to-end construction, without the need for human intervention.
The innovation lies not with the robotic arms, but the laser-guided system that allows the bricks to be placed accurately. “If you put this machine on a rocking boat it would lay a house on the shore correctly to an inch or two,’’ Mr Pivac said. Cont'd...
With the SLS, SOS, and STO functionalities, the SCHUNK EGN gripping system certified in accordance with DIN EN ISO 13849 enables safe human/machine collaboration. If the production process is interrupted by an emergency shut-off, the SCHUNK EGN goes into either a safely limited speed mode or a safe stop mode depending on the activated protection zone. In contrast to other solutions available on the market, the SCHUNK safety gripping system is continuously powered even in the safe operating stop so that the gripped parts are reliably held even without mechanical maintenance of gripping force. As soon as the protection zone is released, the gripper immediately switches back to the regular operating mode without the system having to be restarted.