The pace of change in the design and construction industries continues to accelerate. Blueprints have been succeeded by digital files. The simple level that used to be little more than in a bubble in some liquid has now been replaced by lasers. Now it seems that at least some of the labor associated with bricklaying can be replaced using sophisticated robotic technology.
The skilled labor shortage is leading researchers with New York-based Construction Robotics to pursue new approaches to laying bricks resulting in a contraption known as S.A.M., or Semi-Automated Mason. MIT's Technology Review has more information:
In this human-robot team, the robot is responsible for the more rote tasks: picking up bricks, applying mortar, and placing them in their designated location. A human handles the more nuanced activities, like setting up the worksite, laying bricks in tricky areas, such as corners, and handling aesthetic details, like cleaning up excess mortar.
Even in completing repetitive tasks, SAM still has to be fairly adaptable. It’s able to complete precise and level work while mounted on a scaffold that sways slightly in the wind. The robot can correct for the differences between theoretical building specifications and what’s actually on site, says Scott Peters, cofounder of Construction Robotics, a company based in Victor, New York, that designed SAM as its debut product.
“In construction, your design will say that a window is located exactly 30 feet from the corner of a building, and in reality when you get to the building, nothing is ever where it says it’s supposed to be,” Peters says. “Masons know how to adapt to that, so we had to design a robot that knows how to do that, too.”
There are definitely some limitations to the current capabilities of the robotic bricklayer, and there is no intention of completely eliminating humans from the equation.
At least not yet...
Source: M.I.T. Technology Review